By Spc. Joshua McPhie

1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs

CONROE Troopers from Alpha Company, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, deployed this week to ensure the 1st Air Cavalry Brigades helicopters continue flying missions in support of the Hurricane Rita relief effort.

The unit had less than a week to refit and redeploy the same aircraft that flew hundreds of hours in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

With full aircraft inspections less than a week old when they arrived in Conroe, the maintainers are not seeing any serious problems here. The effect is more blade time for air crews to respond to relief operations.

Id much rather be here with nothing broken, said Sgt. William Davis, a mechanic with Alpha Company. That means the unit is able to help more people.

The high state of readiness can, in part, be credited to effective planning on the part of the support units leadership, who directed the 615th troopers to begin preparations for the next mission immediately on return from Louisiana. Most in the unit feel that the quick turnaround was helpful and had the effect of making the unit better prepared.

The experience in Louisiana gave us very recent experience to draw from, said Lt. Col. Mark Hirschinger, the units commander. It made it easier for us here.

As an example, mechanics determined what they needed to bring forward from Fort Hood through coordination with their Reserve counterparts assigned to the Rita mission. That allowed the unit to leave duplicate tools behind and concentrate on bringing forward only what was needed.

In addition to their normal routine, the First Team mechanics are assisting other units under the operational control of Task Force Warrior with maintenance.

In the past month, the units mechanics have moved three times between New Orleans, Fort Hood and Conroe. With all the changes, one thing remains constant their senior enlisted leader said.

You fix a helicopter the same way at Fort Hood as you would in Belle Chasse or in Conroe, said Sgt. Maj. Glen Vela, acting command sergeant major for the 615th Aviation Support Battalion.

Vela is scheduled to assume duties full time as the battalions top noncommissioned officer in November.

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