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News | May 21, 2012


By Spc. Eric-James Estrada 4-25 ABCT Public Affairs

For Task Force Spartan paratroopers, working a 12-hour shift, seven days a week to maintain the Kiowa Warrior class helicopter is the norm when it comes to providing air support to the troops on the ground.

The Soldiers of A Troop, 1st Squadron (Air), 17th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Wolfpack don't take their job of maintaining helicopter equipment lightly, especially in a war zone. The Wolfpack paratroopers work long hard hours to ensure their equipment is mission ready.

"Our job is integral in keeping ground forces safe out there," said U.S. Army Sgt. Kenneth Higginbotham, an armament, electrical and avionics systems repairer with A Troop, 1-17 Cav. "We keep these guys armed out there doing support, so if anybody calls in they're ready to go at a moment's notice," said the Fayetteville, N.C., native.

Higginbotham explained that as a (15-Juliet) he works on the avionics, electronics and the armament on the aircraft. He said that his team does whatever it takes to fix anything to do with the sight, weapons, or electronics to make sure that their helicopters are mission ready.

Higginbotham also spoke about the civilian support they receive at Forward Operating Base Salerno, stating that they assist the crew chiefs with all the mechanical problems aircraft may have and making sure they are regularly serviced.

The crew chiefs oversee and maintain more than $1.5 million worth of tools, test equipment, vehicles, and weapon systems and ensure the correct procedures are followed for the sustaining of an aircraft weapons firing and maintenance records.

"I'm a 58 crew chief. I primarily work with the (OH-58 Kiowa Warrior) making sure everything is ready to go on it," said U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Sutton, a crew chief with A Troop, 1-17 Cavalry, a native of Dallas. "We have other guys attached to us that help out with avionics and armament issues. We just make sure that the bird's good to go at all times ready to support all the ground guys whenever they need us."

The pilots of A Troop have every confidence in the work and long hours their maintenance crew puts in to ensure their helicopters are ready to respond to any emergency.

"They work hard every day. The guys out here work 12-hour shifts every day making sure the (aircraft) are ready to go. And they do a good job," said Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jeff Hodnett, an OH-58 pilot with A Troop, 1-17 Cavalry, from Chickamauga, Ga.

Hodnett also expressed his gratefulness for his maintenance crew."They're a great group of guys and I feel fortunate to work with them," said Hodnett.

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