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RSG returns to the field
By Spc. Landis Andrews , 444th MPAD; photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kryn Westhoven, JFHQ-NJ/PA

A Pennsylvania Army Guard Blackhawk idles at a Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa. landing zone as members of the 42nd Regional Support Group prepare to load a simulated causalty. Staff Sgt. Daniela Talharim, center, turns to give the order to, clockwise, Pfc. Vanessa Ochoa, Pfc. Monique Best and Pfc. Esther Carrasco to move towards the aircraft carrying Sgt. Wandley Hernandez during annual training.

The 42nd Regional Support Group is known to handle a wide variety of tasks. But evacuating casualties in helicopters, urban assault, and repelling down buildings, is not among the support group’s standard missions.

Yet that didn’t stop RSG Soldiers from jumping head first into these tasks during their annual training in August at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa

. On a windswept landing zone, logistics Soldiers hoisted “wounded” buddies onto stretchers and rehearsed loading them onto UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.

Beads of sweat covered Spc. Steven Balducci’s face as he ducked low to avoid the whirring helicopter blades. He was in for a surprise when the casualty was loaded. The crew told the Soldiers to hop aboard for a ride.

“It was great,” an awed Balducci said after landing. “I’ve never done that before in my life. It was a wonderful experience.”

A few miles away, the 154th Quartermaster Company Soldiers were bustling around Humvees outfitted with lightweight purification systems and testing tubs of murky water to determine which were contaminated – a critical mission when the unit deploys.

Other Soldiers fought their way through the urban assault course, whooping as they kicked doors open and grunting as they struggled to subdue “enemy combatants.”

The 508th MP Company readied their soldiers for a variety of tasks. Pfc. Ebenezer Sarpeh was surprised at how much training the unit could cram into one day.

“Yesterday alone, we did convoy training in the morning, land navigation practice in the afternoon and then we did night driving after dark,” Sarpeh said. His day didn’t end until 10 p.m.

The long days did not deter him from enjoying the training.

“The night driving was crazy because you couldn’t see anything! And the land nav was a lot of fun,” said Sarpeh.

Sgt. Wanda-Lee Hernandez, who was coordinating some of the training, said the aim was to make sure it wasn’t boring.

“To have the soldiers out here and being a part of the action, as simulated as it is, gets them pumped up,” said Hernandez. “But they are also actually grasping the concepts and understanding what their role is in the National Guard.”

Table of Contents
Volume 34 Number 5 Staff / Information
(c) 2009 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs