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Feature | March 5, 2013

The 362nd TRS, Det 1: The Air Force's HH-60 'flight line warriors'

By Staff Sgt. Ashley Hawkins 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

In 2010, the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army entered a joint-basing partnership, uniting Langley Air Force Base and Fort Eustis as one installation, Joint Base Langley-Eustis.

While seen as a landmark in joint service operations, the Air Force has maintained a presence at Fort Eustis since 1994, years before joint-basing.

The 82nd Training Group's 362nd Training Squadron, 1st Detachment, is the only U.S. Air Force training unit on Fort Eustis, producing not only Air Force, but also Army helicopter-qualified aircraft maintenance crew chiefs.

The unit, led by U.S. Air Force Capt. Ikedinachi Akagha, detachment commander, is part of the 82nd Training Wing, headquartered at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, and is made up of two military training leaders, and 11 Air Force and civilian instructors.

The MTLs, who downsized from a group of seven to just two in 2009, operate in a 24-hour schedule to accommodate the students, splitting into a day and a night shift.

With a recent deployment tasking, that number fell to only one, but fortunately the abundance of instructors has made it possible to provide maximum support to the detachment and course curriculum at the schoolhouse.

The Det 1 instructors work hand-in-hand with 128th Aviation Brigade, 2nd Battalion, 210th Aviation Regiment's B Company to provide both Airmen and Soldiers UH-60 Black Hawk training in the Army controlled Interservice Training Review Organization course.
The curriculum is broken down into two separate courses that amount to 73 days of technical training, according to Akagha. The Army prerequisite course is 61 days long, and the Air Force Specialty Code, or AFSC, awarding course is 12 days long.

The captain said the unit's goal is to be recognized as the Air Force's most progressive and innovative geographically separated unit, producing the highest caliber flightline warriors for the HH-60 Pave Hawk, one of the Air Force's most established weapon systems.

The Pave Hawk is a derivative of the UH-60 Black Hawk, incorporating the U.S. Air Force Precision Avionics Vectoring Equipment, or PAVE, electronic systems program. Training on the PAVE constitutes a 12-day awarding course for crew chiefs.

Approximately 115 Airmen come through the detachment's doors annually, training side-by-side with Advanced Individual Training Soldiers in the 2-210th Avn. Rgt.

"It's cohesion between the Air Force and the Army," said Det 1 student, Airman Jordan Vignon. "It gives a different viewpoint on what they go through and what we go through. It's a nice learning experience."

The joint environment gives the Service members the advantage of learning to work with their counterparts early in their careers, acting as a take-away for future duty stations and assignments.

"The way deployments are nowadays, it's not just Army on one side and Air Force on another side, especially given the nature of our unit, where we help out with missions in Afghanistan," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Richard Bekolay, the detachment's lead HH-60 instructor. "The fact that we can practice and train that at home station is vital to mission success down range, where we're going to be working together anyway. It's a blessing to be able to take two different services and blend them into one team, one unit and one fight."