NEWS | July 10, 2018

Va. National Guard aviation battalion trains around the state

By Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

The Virginia National Guard’s Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division trained on squad and platoon-level proficiency, door gunnery, personnel recovery, downed aircraft recovery and basic Soldier skills from June 2-16, 2018, at sites including Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Pickett and the Army Aviation Support Facility in Sandston, Virginia.

“The 2-224th has had a successful AT,” said Lt. Col. William X. Taylor, commander of the 2-224th Aviation Regiment. He explained that the unit spent several days conducting a Field Training Exercise and that he received positive feedback from his Soldiers on that training. “We’re stretching ourselves,” he said.

Over the course of their two-week annual training, 232 Soldiers went through personnel recovery lanes, 12,124 gallons of fuel were pumped at a Forward Arming and Refueling Point established at Fort A.P. Hill, 5,283 meals were served by the unit’s food service specialists and more than 125 flight hours were flown. All this was accomplished in the midst of planning and executing air missions in support of other Virginia National Guard units, increasing the readiness levels of the unit’s pilots and qualifying Soldiers on their individual weapons.

“They worked very hard and the Soldiers were very successful,” Taylor explained. He said another focus for the Soldiers was preparing for ARMS, the Aviation Resource Management Survey, which ensures aviation safety, operations, training, maintenance and facilities are all operating at or above standard. In August, the 2-224th will undergo their ARMS evaluation and much of the unit’s focus has been dedicated to ensuring everything is prepped and ready for that.

Supporting other units within the Virginia National Guard was also a focus for the aviators, according to Taylor. He said the unit provided aviation support to units including the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the 276th Engineer Battalion.

In the final days of the unit’s annual training period, several Soldiers came together to train and test for the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency, a coveted foreign award authorized for wear by U.S. military personnel on their dress uniforms. Among the requirements to earn the badge is a timed 100-meter swim in uniform which is often dubbed the toughest event, a basic fitness test that includes a sprint test, a timed flexed-arm hang and a 1,000-meter run, a marksmanship test and a road march. Additional requirements include a commander’s evaluation and a first aid test or the completion of a course such as the Combat Life Saver Course.

“It’s a decoration of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany,” explained Lt. Col. Stephan Euler, the German liaison to U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee. “This decoration is awarded to and worn by German soldiers of all ranks and allied soldiers as well.”

Euler explained that German soldiers must conduct the test each year to “prove their performance,” and explained that the test shows they are both physically and morally fit.

Sgt. Maj. Ronald Schiller, also from the German Liaison Office, joined Euler in presenting 14 Soldiers with their badges in a ceremony held June 15, 2018. Based on performance, Soldiers can earn either the bronze, silver or gold award. At the ceremony, three Soldiers from the 2-224th received their gold badge, eight received the silver and three received the bronze.

Other accomplishments of the 2-224th during their annual training include the successful deployment and redeployment of the unit to Fort A.P. Hill, aircraft maintenance operations and individual training that included combat lifesaver training and job-specific training.

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