A CH-47 Chinook helicopter carries a M777over trees.

Photo by Spc. Anjelo Pina, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

Soldiers with the 237th Support Battalion conducted sling load training earlier this year at Camp James A. Garfield Joint Military Training Center near Newton Falls, Ohio. Soldiers practiced preparing and rigging a variety of military equipment and vehicles before attaching them to CH-47 Chinook helicopters. Whether deployed in a combat situation or supporting domestic operations during a natural disaster, National Guard airlift capabilities provide a way to transport cargo to and from largely inaccessible locations.

Up, Up and Away:
Soldiers sling supplies underneath Chinooks

Story by Staff Sgt. Michael Carden, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (07/23/19)

Getting supplies or vehicles to remote, inaccessible locations is a problem that challenges commanders in both combat and domestic operations situations. The Ohio National Guard trains for those situations by attaching vital equipment to the underside of helicopters, bypassing ground-based obstacles.

“When it comes down to it, if we can’t get a truck in, we can load up anything we need to and hook it up to a helicopter and fly it in,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Jarkewicz, a platoon sergeant with Company A, 237th Support Battalion in Cleveland. “We can fly in water, food or any kind of equipment we need during a natural disaster response.”

About 75 Ohio National Guard Soldiers, along with a small group of Michigan National Guard Soldiers, practiced preparing and rigging a variety of military equipment and vehicles before attaching them to CH-47 Chinook helicopters and watching them lift off.

“Everybody is staying involved and getting good training,” said Sgt. Kevin Fowler, one of the instructors and a squad leader with Company A, 237th Support Battalion. “This is the first time we’ve done training at this scale, with this many units. It gives Soldiers a chance to get involved.”

All the instructors are organic to the Ohio Army National Guard, bringing skills learned through training and experience back to their units. “We bring all kinds of skills to the table,” said Capt. Erica Anderson, an operations officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 237th Support Battalion. “We have air assault-qualified people, we have sling load-qualified people, and we have pathfinder-qualified people. They are bringing all their training together to teach our Soldiers.”

The training culminated in multiple CH-47s circling overhead, with Soldiers hooking up trucks and howitzers, struggling against the blast of the downdraft put out by the two massive helicopter rotors on each aircraft.

“Live hook (up) is windy, loud and gets the heart racing.” Fowler said. “Every time you get to do it is a fun experience.”

The Ohio National Guard has utilized these skills in response to many natural disasters, including transporting generators and equipment to areas of Puerto Rico devastated by Hurricane Maria, supplies to flooded areas of Texas, and areas affected by tornados here in Ohio.

Video by Staff Sgt. George Davis and Spc. Angelo Pina, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs



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Ad in BG magazine headline reads: Interested in becoming a helicopter pilot for the Ohio National Guard

Interested in becoming a helicopter pilot for the Ohio National Guard

See what it takes to transition to warrant officer pilot in one of the Guard’s most exciting career fields. Ohio National Guard aviators fly some of the most versatile and technologically advanced aircraft in the world to accomplish missions such as troop transportation, cargo airlift, medical evacuation and disaster relief.