SOUTHWEST ASIA — The 69th Air Defense Artillery “Top Notch” Brigade hosted its second Patriot Open House as part of a continued effort to raise awareness of air defense operations Dec. 2 in the U.S. Army Central’s area of responsibility.
The day provided an opportunity for the 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment from Fort Hood to showcase the MIM-104 Patriot weapon system, air defense operations and simultaneously building the relationships with other nations.
“The open house is an event we put together for (Air Force Central Command) and our coalition partners to visit our PAT site, familiarize them with the equipment, allow them to get to know our soldiers and most importantly, to understand our mission,” said Capt. Kariangelie Rodriguez, a Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, native, and theater security cooperation-coordinator for the 69th ADA Brigade. “It also gives our soldiers a chance to show our Air Force counterparts and coalition partners that we are prepared to execute our mission if the nation calls.”
The tour started with soldiers briefing the guests about the air defense site and an introduction to how the unit operates. They used a sand table — a scaled model of the area — as a visual aide.
The group then watched an informational video on the Patriot’s history and had an opportunity to see a static display of the different types of missiles the unit can use to guard the skies.
“We provided three different times throughout the day for our guests to attend the tour,” said Rodriguez. “We had around 65 personnel attending the open house from the 379 Air Expeditionary Wing, Combined Air Operations Center, and our coalition partners from Australia, Belgium, U.K., Germany and Poland.”
It was the first time the soldiers had an opportunity to showcase their knowledge and capabilities to an audience of coalition forces.
“My favorite part of today was the ability to see what you guys do here,” said squadron leader Matthew Kelly, the Australian liaison officer for the Royal Australian Air Force. “We don’t always get a chance to come out to these places. It really builds that awareness and gives you a really good understanding of the purpose of why we are all here.”
The open house gave Kelly a chance to learn about the Army’s air defense systems and provided the unit a chance to meet members of its coalition partners.
“I enjoyed meeting all of the different armies from the different countries and getting to talk to everybody about what I do,” Spc. Mathias Dolson, a Killeen, Texas, native and Patriot system operator with Battery B, 1-43 ADA. “It really made me feel like my job is pretty important to not just the United States, but also worldwide.”
Dolson narrated to the spectators as two other soldiers performed their march order and emplacement drill to show how calculated the steps are to power up the launchers after movement.
“The part they performed was the end of the emplacement drill where you raise the launcher, rotate it and make sure the mechanics are working,” said Dolson. “Then they put the key in and make the launcher go into remote. Then the engagement control station would take control and the soldiers can leave the site.”
Upon completion of the days’ events, the visitors got to talk to the soldiers, read more about the different missiles and take photos with the launcher.
“I think the open house was a success due to all the hard work and pride every single person put for the coordination and execution,” said Rodriguez. “I think the PAT site’s hospitality and professionalism was fantastic and allowed everyone to have a great time.”