KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – 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 Troop A, 1st Squadron (Air), 7th 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 Troop A, 1st Sqdn., 7th Cavalry. “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 added the Fayetteville, 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, saying 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 over $1,500,000 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 (Kiowa) making sure everything is ready to go on it,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Sutton, a crew chief with Troop A, 1-17 Cavalry, from Dallas.
“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, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jeff Hodnett, an OH-58 pilot with Troop A, 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.