Battalion Soldiers Move from Mountaintop
Spc. Joshua Hutcheson, USA
Special to AFPS
MOSUL, Iraq, Jan.
8, 2004 – On a remote mountaintop in northern Iraq, 10 miles
east of the town of Tallafar, soldiers are getting ready to leave
their outpost and join fellow soldiers here, and they’re doing it
the way soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) have
been doing it for years: by air.
Jason Cubelo, line-of-sight operator team chief, Bravo Company,
501st Signal Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault),
signals for incoming CH-47 Chinooks carrying humvees to move
right as they approach to drop off their slingloads. The 501st
slingloaded equipment from a remote outpost on top of a mountain
as they prepare to redeploy.
by Spc. Joshua Hutcheson, USA
The soldiers had to find
the area with the best reception, and that area ended up being on
a mountain that’s almost inaccessible by driven vehicles, said Capt.
Brian North, commander of the battalion’s B Company.
were coming under attack in ambushes and by improvised explosive
devices. By setting up the site as an FM radio relay to extend the
division’s communications abilities, the soldiers were able to keep
vital lines of communication open between soldiers on the road and
reinforcements at bases, thereby saving lives.
continued, but the deaths ceased," Follmer said. "Not
another soldier has died since we’ve been out here."
months of living on a barren, rocky mountain, the soldiers’ mission
ended, so they packed up and left. But leaving wasn’t as easy as
loading up the back of a humvee and driving away.
two CH-47 Chinook helicopters came in. In three trips, using hooks
attached to the helicopters’ underbellies, the Chinooks were able
to carry four humvees — two with remote access units attached to
them — a generator, and fuel and water containers. Smaller items,
such as a refrigerator, large-screen TV, air conditioning unit and
boxes of field rations were loaded inside.
carried) everything the soldiers required to live up here for seven
or eight months," North said.
A team of eight
soldiers from the 501st arrived at the site the night before the
move. They worked together to prepare and rig the loads for transportation.
They had to place nets underneath all the heavy equipment and vehicles
and make sure the ropes that would allow the loads to be carried
by the helicopters — called "sling legs" — would be
able to support the weight of the loads.
a hard job, because I had plenty of time and squared-away people
to help me out," said Staff Sgt. David Burnam, extension section
up the equipment using rings connected to the sling legs. The helicopters
slowly lowered to within a few feet of the ground, allowing the
soldiers to make the attachment as quickly as they could.
Once they arrived
at the Mosul airfield, soldiers called line-of-sight operators signaled
to the pilots where to release the loads and land.
much ground-guide them in, just like you would a humvee," said
Spc. Jason Cubero, line of sight operator team chief.
Once all the
soldiers and equipment landed at the airfield, the operation was
one of those great things we get to do in an air assault division,"
North said. "There’s (noncommissioned officers) taking charge,
and soldiers doing their jobs."
said that while they are satisfied with the job they’ve done in
Iraq, they’re ready to return to their friends and family.
over, and we’re getting ready to redeploy," Follmer said. "I’ve
got loved ones to be with again."