***image1***GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – Soldiers of the 1-214th Aviation Regiment, a subordinate unit of the 21st Theater Support Command, participated in live-fire aerial gunnery training here in April.
The purpose of the deployment was to train UH-60 Blackhawk crew chiefs on the M-60 machine gun.
Live-fire training is a change of pace for the regiment’s Soldiers since their primary mission is transporting VIPs throughout the U.S. Army Europe theater from their home in Mannheim.
***image2*** The Charlie Company deployed three UH-60A Blackhawk helicopters and numerous personnel to the ranges to qualify Soldiers in day and nighttime aerial gunnery.
Capt. Bryan Woodcock, Charlie Company commander, said the deployment is part of a semi-annual weapons qualification for UH-60 crew chiefs and an important step in progression training for new crew chiefs.
The crew chiefs donned their door gunner hats as they initially qualified from a static UH-60 with an M-60 machine gun mounted in the left door. Initial qualifications were done in the daytime with fixed targets. After qualifications were complete, the ***image3***Soldiers packed up and quickly moved to a range used for aerial gunnery.
Captain Woodcock said his Soldiers don’t get to fly with guns on a regular basis like other Blackhawk units do. The training is especially important because, “if we deploy, it’s the (crew chiefs’) responsibility to protect the helicopter,” he said.
The units’ master gunner and standardization instructor, Sgt. James Bueby, accompanied the crew chiefs as they shot multiple familiarization tables and final qualification tables on the range from a hovering and moving Blackhawk. Sergeant Bueby gave hands-on instruction on gun ***image4***operations, proper procedures and aircrew coordination and also recorded the scores of the shooters.
But the deployment wasn’t just about “shooting the guns,” said Sergeant Bueby. It was a culmination of months of training and an effective assessment of Soldiers’ skills as gunners. He said he was pleased with their shooting and was impressed by the night vision goggle gunners’ skills.