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Apache attack helicopters arrive in MND-N


By Cpl. Kevin Greenwood, 133rd MPAD, Eagle Base
First published in
SFOR Informer #71, 29 Sept, 1999.

The wind whips in from the Kvarner Bay as soldiers from the 8th Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment spend the first days of deployment unloading and unwrapping their AH-G4A Apache attack helicopters. Upon preparation, the Apaches were flown to Bosnia and Hercegovina where they will reside alongside 10th Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division helicopters.

The Apaches arrived in port stowed within the enormous holds of a Saudi Arabian vessel. The helicopters were cocooned in white shrink-wrap for protection during the Atlantic voyage, ending high up the Adriatic into the scenic bay along the olden port of Rijeka.

"Have you got an eleven-sixteenths-inch box-and-open wrench," yells Spc. John Withrow from the aft side of the Apache to his buddy on the ground, as he adjusts one of four blades hoisted by crane to the top of the aircraft.

Withrow is an Apache crew chief with the 8-229th, an Army Reserve unit located at Ft. Knox, Ky. The 124-pound propellers are mounted with the utmost care; the soldiers are concerned about gusts of wind, which can arrive suddenly and without warning, and are capable of damaging the equipment.

Under the Apache, Sgt. Joseph Shull of Company D, 8-229 and Spc. Randol Abelli of Company D, 10th Aviation, 10th Mountain Division, inspect the 30 mm machine gun. Shull, an Army Reservist, and Abelli, who is an active Army soldier, are both armament specialists.

The large gun hangs under the Apache in a threatening posture. Inspections are finalized, and the big gun is ready for action, awaiting only ammunition.

Reservists and regular Army soldiers work side by side on this day. This is made evident by the different patches worn on the left upper sleeve of the battle dress uniform.

The bond between the reservists and the regular army soldiers has been seamless, according to Maj. Mike Currie who is the battalion executive officer for 8-229th.

"Everyone's here to do the job," he added. "We've had a good working relationship with the active component as well as the civilians here." "Everything is off-loaded and on schedule," Currie said, "and they've had solutions to all of our problems."

The 8-229th is a reserve unit that has a great deal of experience. Many of the soldiers are reserve technicians who work with the birds every day, as does the active component soldiers. "This is nothing new to these guys," said Currie, "except now they're in uniform."

Full-time reserve technicians work in civilian clothes, unlike their counterparts in the active component or full-time National Guard. After the maintenance crews finished their assemblies, checks and services, the Apaches flew to their new home at Camp Comanche.

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