Turning the Gears of War

Article excerpt

CAMP TAJI, Iraq - "Never a mission missed or a mission delayed due to maintenance," proudly state the mechanics of Company D; 8th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment the Flying Tigers.

"It takes extremely leng boors and a ten of dedication to keep these birds [helicopters] flying," said Sgt. Scott Yoe, AH-64 Apache mechanic for the 8th Bn., 229th Avn. Regt. Flying Tigers, while working on an Apache. "We all are perfectionists here, and because of that our pilots have yet to miss or be late for a mission since we arrived here in Iraq."

The 8th Bn., 229th Avn. Regt. is an Army Reserve unit from Fort Knox, Ky., currently stationed in Camp Taji, Iraq. The unit provides the "attack arm" for the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade, which is deployed to Iraq in support Operation New Dawn.

Staff Sgt. David Crockett, a quality control technical inspector for the 8th Bn., 229th Avn. Regt., said pilot safety is paramount. "If we miss something or get something wrong, it can end in a catastrophic failure for the pilots, and we never want that to happen."

However, should something happen to the helicopter and the pilots have to put down for any reason, a Downed Aircraft Recovery Team (DART) is ready to take action.

"A downed aircraft doesn't always mean it crashed or was shot down. It could be that the pilots had to put it on the ground for [some other] reason," said Spc. Alfredo Galvan, AH-64 mechanic and DART team member for the unit. "But in any case, should an Apache down, my team's job is to go out and secure bird and its pilots."

"Good maintenance and a vigilant eye help prevent downed aircraft," Crockett said while inspecting the work of the mechanics.

"Any time work is done on the aircraft, I have to meticulously go through and check all the work to ensure it was done properly," Crockett said. "I have the final say when the aircraft is done; and if I find something wrong, I show it to them and they fix it. …