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Buffalo based National Guard soldiers train in Java Center



STAFF REPORTS

JAVA CENTER --  More than 40 Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 101st Cavalry Regiment of the New York Army National Guard endured harsh winter weather to conduct reconnaissance training with CH-47 Chinook helicopters at Beaver Hollows here ,March 10-11, 2018.
A CH-47 assigned to Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 126 Aviation Regiment from Rochester, inserted the members of Charlie Troop into more than 20 inches of snow. With temperatures below freezing, the infantrymen set up various observation points throughout the weekend in order to sharpen their tactics and techniques.

Charlie Troop is based at the Masten Avenue Armory in Buffalo.

The unit's mission is to conduct reconnaissance and the Soldiers serve as the eyes and ears of the New York Army National Guard's 27th Infantry Brigade Team.

These types of operations allow commanders to make informed decisions on enemy activity so friendly forces can safely move into position. Being able to conduct this training with aviation support has come as an added bonus for the Soldiers, according to Sgt. Michael Wheeler, an East Amherst resident and team leader assigned to Charlie Troop.

With a recent winter storm still covering Western New York in snow, Charlie Troop was dropped off into an area where the snow was at least knee deep. They then had to contend with a blinding mix of wind and snow as they disembarked their Chinook and established security in the landing zone.
The Soldiers carried heavy loads. The weight of which makes trudging through the uneven, snow-covered terrain even more difficult."Typically an infantryman has 35 to 50 pounds of gear. In reconnaissance we are sustaining for 72 hours, on foot, so now it's around 70 to 100 pounds," Wheeler said.

As difficult as it may be, this is the kind of training that motivates the Soldiers from Buffalo. Morale and the enthusiasm to train no matter the conditions, runs high in Charlie Troop, Soldiers said."It's great you know, we're out here teaching the younger guys, the less experienced guys like myself," said Spec. Cory Dawson, a North Tonawanda resident and a senior scout assigned to Charlie Troop.
"Everybody needs to know the job of the man above them and below them, and when your leaders are out here letting you take their spot it helps you get a bigger picture on the whole mission," Dawson said.

For many of the Charlie Troop Soldiers this was the first time they were able to get experience using aviation to get in and out of a battlefield.

"I've had some training with aviation once before but this is the first time I've done an air insertion," Dawson said. "Today went really well and it was actually pretty cool flying in through the snow and then helicopter hovering and blowing it off the landing zone."

The Soldiers stayed in Beaver Hollows conducting reconnaissance missions into the late hours of the night on March 10. They were flown out on March 11.