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Aviators deliver bridge piece by piece

Capt. Alan Moss The first segment of an assault bridge stretches across the Arkansas River, delivered by JBLM-based B Co., 1-214 GASB CH-47 Chinook helicopters during training at Fort Chaffee, Ark. with engineers in “external loading operations.”

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In preparation for a future deployment to Afghanistan, B Co., 1st Battalion, 214th General Aviation Service Battalion from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, recently conducted river assault training in Fort Chaffee, Ark., helping to build an assault bridge on the Arkansas River using CH-47 Chinook helicopters to carry the required equipment.

Although B Co., 1-214 GASB primarily trains for single-hooked (single-point) loads, River Assault allowed the Soldiers of B Co. to practice their skills with dual point loads. The battalion conducted "external loading operations," which consisted of loading several tons of the assault bridge in pieces onto a CH-47 Chinook and lowering them into place, supporting the 412th Theater Engineer Command's hook-up crew during the construction of the makeshift bridge on the Arkansas River.

"Working with the engineers represents an excellent training opportunity for us to gain more experience conducting dual-point operations with a hook-up crew," Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brian Pavlik, air mission commander for B Co., said.

Pavlik is no stranger to bridge operations.

"I feel that I have come full circle," he said. "Years later, I find myself providing aviation support for bridge-crossing operations."

Pavlik said that the dual-point loads that were practiced during the training mission will be seen again when the Soldiers of B Co., 1-214 GASB deploy to Afghanistan.

Pavlik said the CH-47 Chinook is deceptively agile, despite its bulky appearance. The Chinook has the capacity to carry up to 10 tons, which includes the weight of the crew, the cargo, and the equipment altogether. Unlike other helicopters, the Chinook is highly maneuverable and can cruise at higher altitudes, making it useful for many different spectrums of military operations.

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