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Oklahoma Army National Guard gears up for deployment

By Staff Sgt. Eric McDonoughJanuary 18, 2017

Camp Gruber, Okla. -- Guardsmen with 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB), 149th Aviation Regiment, Oklahoma Army National Guard are conducting pre-mobilization training at Camp Gruber this month in preparation for deployment to the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

The GSAB are deploying three companies comprised of aviators, maintainers and fuel technicians for CH-47 Chinook helicopters. Much of the GSAB's training at Camp Gruber is focused on general Soldier skills, which are refreshed annually and prior to any deployment. When needed, Camp Gruber's training cadre make modifications to the standard pre-mobilization training tasks to suit the needs of more specialized military units.

"They've got a lot of good training," said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Pindel, operations non-commissioned officer for the GSAB. "We're making this iteration a little more realistic for them; this will help them with their survival skills. This is basically a pseudo SERE lane for them."

Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) is a program that provides U.S. military personnel with training in evading capture, survival skills, and the military code of conduct. The Army aviators, flight crews and fuel technicians of the GSAB have all trained in these tactics.

"When they come under attack here and can't get the aircraft off the ground, they'll have to leave the aircraft," Pindel said. "They'll have to escape and evade from there to a site they can be extracted from."

Chinooks are one of the most flexible, heavy-lift aircraft in the U.S. Army with a maximum lift capability of 26,000 pounds and a maximum range exceeding 400 miles. The capabilities of the Chinooks make it a highly utilized aircraft for a large range of missions.

"We mainly are tasked with hauling personnel and gear, both internal and external loads," said Sgt. Grant Atteberry, a Chinook maintainer with Bravo Company. "We carry all things from mail to large shipping containers that are externally sling loaded and everything in between."

This is Atteberry's second deployment. He combines his military experience with his civilian job experience as a Cleveland County Sheriff's Deputy to increase his effectiveness in both areas of his life.

"The training has been good. With every unit that comes through, with every mobilization the training gets better," Atteberry said. "Things like the Combat Life Saver courses provide me with additional tools to build upon what I get civilian side. If I respond to a scene, a car wreck or anything of the sort where someone is injured, I have further training to render aid to that person prior to civilian medical getting there."

The GSAB will move onto Fort Hood, Texas, for additional mobilization training before heading overseas.



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