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193rd Aviation In Iraq
|Soldiers of Hawaii Army National Guard's Charlie Company, 193rd Aviation, watch as a CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter takes off from Balad, Iraq.|
|Since arriving in Iraq eight months ago, Hawaii Army National Guard Chinook helicopter crews say they have logged many miles flying under the cover of night.|
|Maj. Joe Laurel, commanding officer of Charlie Company of the Hawaii Army National Guard's 193rd Aviation, said yesterday in a phone interview from Balad that many of the unit's missions have been in blackout conditions using night-vision goggles.|
|"It's like looking through toilet paper rolls," Laurel explained, "while flying at 200 miles per hour."|
|"We are always flying a low level to help mitigate folks who want to do us harm."|
|Chief Warrant Officer Oliver Kaloi, who piloted UH-1 Huey and AH-1 Cobra gunship helicopters in Vietnam, said Charlie Company aviators have "set all kinds of records, especially flying with night-vision goggles."|
| As part of the aviation task force assigned to the 1st Division, Charlie Company's 13 CH-47 Chinooks have been ferrying supplies, equipment and soldiers throughout northern Iraq.
"We also have done casualty evacuations," he said.
|Since arriving in Balad, north of Baghdad, on April 14, the unit of 200 aviators, mechanics and supply specialists has had only one minor accident [See the next story below].|
|Four days after relieving another aviation unit, five Charlie Company crew members escaped injury when a sandstorm forced their Chinook to crash-land.|
|Chief Warrant Officer Jack Sharkey, who said he might be the oldest soldier in the Hawaii Army Guard at 62, said flying in Iraq is nothing like piloting a F-4 Phantom jet in the Vietnam War.|
|"The war is very different," said Sharkey, who has been in the Hawaii Army Guard for 24 years after serving on active duty in the Marine Corps for eight years.|
| "We're flying a lot lower here. In Vietnam we didn't fly at night."
"It's pretty stressful flying. We got used to it."
|Maj. Gen. Bob Lee, who heads the Hawaii Army and Air National Guard as state adjutant general, spent this week visiting with members of Charlie Company. Yesterday, Lee said the unit "will come home on schedule" in April.|
|Also in Afghanistan on a year-long deployment are nearly 60 members of the 193rd Aviation's Bravo Company. They left Wheeler Army Air Field in March.|
|Hawaii Guard Helicopter Crashes|
| 27 May 2004: Chinook 92-00301, a Hawaii Army National Guard helicopter crashed and burned in Iraq last month. Only family, friends and military officials knew about the crash until now.
In January, 200 members of C Company, 193rd Aviation, part of the Hawaii National Guard, were called up for duty in Iraq. They arrived in the Middle East in March with 14 helicopters.
|In April, at an undisclosed location, three Chinook helicopters flew into a sandstorm. One of the helicopters tried to land, but crashed and caught on fire.|
|"They attempted a landing and it was a hard landing and it turned out to be a hard landing and the aircraft rolled," General Robert Lee said.|
| Two pilots and three crewmembers were aboard. The Army said the helicopter was not under attack at the time. All aboard were quickly rescued, according to military officials.
Their families were notified within hours. It's a call loved ones dread.
|"The first thing that I thought, I looked at my clock, and I thought - oh it must be Dave," said Candice, who is a girlfriend of one of the Guard members on board the helicopter.|
|"We waited a couple of hours and he told me that they had crashed and that he was OK. His crew was OK and that he would call me later," she said.|
|Candice said her boyfriend is well trained and she knew he would stay calm in an emergency situation. She said he helped save another crewmember's life.|
|"I know he pulled one soldier out. He had to cut through her belts. Other than that, I think everyone else got out on their own. How they got out, he hasn't given a specifics yet," she said.|
| The military is not releasing the soldiers' names or other details of the crash because of an ongoing investigation.
The soldiers from Charlie Company are not scheduled to return from the combat theater until March 2005.
|62 in Guard headed for Afghanistan|
|2 March 2004: Sixty-two members of the Hawaii Army National Guard's helicopter maintenance unit have been alerted for duty in Afghanistan later this spring.|
|Last week, members of Bravo Company of the Hawaii Army National Guard's 193rd Aviation Regiment were told that they will have to report for active duty later this month to prepare to replace other members of their unit who have been at Kandahar since late August.|
|The company is responsible for maintaining helicopters flown by the 25th Infantry Division and the Hawaii Army National Guard.|
|An additional 200 members of Charlie Company, 193rd Aviation, have been on active duty at Schofield Barracks since January preparing for a one-year deployment to Iraq.|
|The unit's 14 CH-47 Chinook helicopters are already en route to Iraq on USNS Cape Henry. Also included are heavy trucks and equipment for the Army Reserve's 411th Engineer Combat Battalion and 25th Division transportation units.|
|Yesterday, the Pentagon placed on alert 18,000 Army National Guard soldiers from the 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters from New York, the 256th Separate Infantry Brigade from Louisiana, the 116th Separate Armored Brigade from Idaho and the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment from Tennessee for likely deployment to Iraq late this year or early 2005.|
|The soldiers will be part of a larger force of 100,000 active-duty and reserve troops expected to take over for the contingent beginning a one-year tour in Iraq this month. Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division arrived in Kirkuk last month for a year-long stay.|
|None of Hawaii's combat units were included in yesterday's alert, although Hawaii Reserve leaders expect that the 29th Infantry Brigade, which includes citizen soldiers from Hawaii, may be required to deploy to Iraq next year.|
|7 January 2004: Members of the Army National Guard conduct maintenance on a CH-47D Chinook helicopter [tail number unknown] on Tuesday, 6 January 2004. Stationed at Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii, the soldiers are preparing for an expected 18 months of active duty, including deployment to Iraq.|
|Hawaii National Guardsmen On Alert|
|26 November 2003: Two hundred Hawaii Army National Guardsmen are on alert for deployment to the Middle East. This time, it's Charlie Company, 193rd Aviation.|
|The soldiers are Chinook helicopter flight crews and their support staff.|
|"It's a job we have to do," one soldier said. "I chose this occupation, so, you know, I'm prepared to go."|
|The vast majority of those soldiers are part time Army Guard solders, meaning they normally train one weekend a month and 15 days a year, but now they're going to be on active duty.|
|Earlier this month in Iraq, a Chinook helicopter was shot down by a surface-to-air missile and 16 soldiers were killed.|
|The pentagon has put out guidelines that guardsmen and reservists who are called up can expect to be on active duty for 18 months. That would include a few months of training before they leave.|
|Last week, about 350 Hawaii-based reservists were put on a similar deployment alert.|
|A National Guard spokesman says if this group is deployed it will be early next year.|
|29 September 2003: Soldiers of the 25th Infantry Divisionís 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, exit a CH-47D Chinook helicopter, tail number unknown, operated by crews of the divisionís 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, during a recent air assault mission on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. The Hawaii-based "Tropic Lightning" division is preparing for deployment to Afghanistan.|
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