Army Pilots Train for Redeployment - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/27/04

Army Pilots Train for Redeployment

Soldiers from our area will have the next shift in protecting democracy in Iraq. Third Infantry troops have spent months getting ready for their duties on the ground and in the air. Army pilots are ready to be the eye in the sky.

Few people want to face the business end of an Apache helicopter. Right now, they're flying the skies of Fort Stewart to sharpen their skills. Pilots from the 1-3 Aviation Regiment hope the imposing image helps them protect ground troops when they deploy to Iraq.

"We've been hearing we'll fly anywhere from thirteen to fifteen hundred hours a month, which is a lot of flying time," said Lt. Mike Milas.

Pilots practice firing the 30-millimeter guns, the rockets and the Hellfire missiles. As pilots sharpen their skills at how to shoot, they also work on the judgment of when not to.

"The most important weapon in the United States arsenal is the soldier himself," said CW4 Vincent Stella. "And if the soldier isn't focused, he's just as ineffective as if his equipment isn't operational."

Soldiers who flew in Iraq during last year's war say only the skies will be the same. "It's going to be a completely different look, different feel," said company commander Capt. Joe Bishop. "We went in with the intention to help liberate Iraq. Now, we're helping rebuild."

After each flight, pilots and leaders review response time and accuracy. They say if it brings every soldier home alive and well, there's no such thing as training too much.

The Apache pilots expect to deploy some time early next year. A few soldiers from Fort Stewart and Hunter will deploy tonight; we'll have their story coming up on THE News at 11.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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