Dust and grass swirl in the air as a helicopter lands to pick up its combat load — a squad of infantrymen.

Troopers with Alpha and Bravo Companies, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, used two Black Hawks to perform an air assault training mission Oct. 9 at Fort Hood.

The soldiers conducted the air assault mission as part of Operation Charger Chosin, a situational training exercise lasting more than 10 days.

“It was good to get the exposure of what it’s like to get on the (helicopter) in an organized fashion and off in an organized fashion,” said 2nd Lt. Austin Laetsch, a Bravo Company platoon leader. “This makes our operations more complex, which is ultimately going to make our training better in the end.”

The operation was a collective M-2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle gunnery and squad maneuver training event that included each platoon within the companies. It also involved learning to use assets, the Black Hawks, that were not a part of the battalion.

“It was my first time ever going on a helicopter,” said Pvt. Mikol Morales, an infantryman. “I learned how to enter and exit a helicopter and specifics of my job like trench clearing.”

The air assault mission began with two squads of infantryman all crouched in a field waiting for the Black Hawks to pick them up. When the helicopters landed, the troopers quickly loaded into them and were off the ground within minutes.

Upon the soldiers’ arrival to Landing Zone Robin, they exited the Black Hawks and assumed a crouched or prone defensive position before the helicopters took off, within minutes of landing. The infantrymen then had to assault an objective, set up an observation point, and defend it against an enemy squad-sized element.

“We haven’t had any hiccups as far as training goes, and I think all the guys got some pretty good training out of it.” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Renfroe, a master gunner.

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