RICHMOND, Va. –
Gloucester High School’s junior ROTC cadets gained a peek into the Virginia Army National Guard’s aviation capabilities during a visit Nov. 8, 2022, to the Army Aviation Support Facility, in Sandston, Virginia. The event was organized with support from the Virginia Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion and included 18 cadets, all juniors and seniors at Gloucester High.
“After 32 years, I have no regrets,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Shane Leipertz, who opened the JROTC visit. “I have a high school level of education, I have deployed seven times and have had the privilege to fly UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters in 15 countries. It is still fun, and the best part of this job is that you never have to grow up.”
Staff Sgt. David Adams, the area recruiter for Gloucester High School, organized the visit. As a former member of the Virginia Army National Guard’s aviation battalion, Adams reached out to his contacts in the unit and then pitched the idea to the JROTC program, who said “an aviation field trip would be great.” He said Gloucester has one of the most active JROTC programs in his area, with around 200 cadets.
Following opening remarks from Leipertz, Chief Warrant Officer 5 John Anderson provided an overview of the U.S. Army to the Navy JROTC cadets and then talked more about the specifics of the Virginia Army National Guard and its aviation assets.
“The Black Hawk is the pick-up truck of the aviation world,” Anderson said, explaining the multi-faceted capabilities of the UH-60. He explained that life as an Army aviator means, “you never stop learning.”
After gaining a basic understanding of the Virginia Army National Guard’s aviation capabilities, the cadets learned about the process of becoming Army aviators and then heard from some of the state’s most recent flight school graduates.
“The adventurous lifestyle we get to live every day is unparalleled to anything else,” said 2nd Lt. Kirk Ring, who graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 2021 and attended flight school shortly thereafter. On his flight school experience, Ring said, “It was a good time, but probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”
Finally, the cadets toured the maintenance facility and were able to see and sit in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and speak to maintainers at the facility.
“I hope this generates some interest in joining and serving your local community as a member of the Virginia National Guard,” Adams said at the close of the visit.