LEESBURG, Va. –
Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s Unmanned Aerial System Platoon helped recruiters educate high school students about potential opportunities in aviation and technology Oct. 27, 2017, at the ProJet Aviation’s 12th Annual Aviation Education and Career Expo at the Leesburg Executive Airport in Leesburg, Virginia.
“Currently the Virginia National Guard has openings in many Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, related fields including communications, aviation, cyber and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear operations,” explained Master Sgt. John Lewis, the recruiting supervisor for Northern Virginia. “With high school students, we want to combine the training they receive from the Army and combine it with the college education to make them more marketable and successful after they graduate with their Bachelors or Masters degree.”
Lewis said that students who enlist in the Virginia Guard will receive up to $8,000 a year towards their higher education in the form of state tuition assistance. In addition, there are opportunities for federal benefits of at least $4,000, for a total of $12,000 or more in financial benefits for serving as part of the Virginia National Guard.
The UAS platoon Soldiers are assigned to the Bowling Green-based Detachment 1, Company D, 229th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team fly the RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial system. Detachment 1 is one of 27 National Guard Class II UAS programs that provide Army brigade commanders with tactical-level reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, battle damage assessment and communication relay capabilities. With the detachment’s three unmanned aerial vehicles, it can provide 24/7 coverage on the battlefield.
The unit conducted UAS operations in Afghanistan for 6 months from 2011-2012.