Air Assault: Mission Completed
Written by Jeffrey L. Hensley
During this summer I was afforded the opportunity to travel to Fort Benning, Ga., and earn my right to wear the Air Assault wings. Going there I was incredibly nervous after hearing all the “horror” stories from others. Needless to say I was determined to return home Air Assault qualified.
When we first arrived we conducted a large amount of paper work, which you do when attending just about any Army school. Then once the paper work was complete we jumped right into training, starting with a two-mile run in ACUs, then it was on to the challenging but fun obstacle course. Once you completed these tasks you were officially in the course.
Throughout the school we were constantly challenged, both physically and mentally, and attention to detail was always stressed. After a few tests, written and hands on, it was time for the highlight of the school, repelling. First you start on the repel tower for a couple days, learning to tie your own repel seat (a Swiss seat), how to hook up to the tower and how to actually repel. We were able to repel without equipment and with a full load of equipment to include a rucksack. After spending your time on the tower and earning a few bruises on your hips it was time for the real deal, the one thing everyone had been drooling about since the start: repelling out of an actual helicopter.
Your adrenaline is incredibly high even as the helicopters begin to get in place. Then you set up and enter the helicopter and it begins to make its way up into the sky, about 90 feet in the air. Once you reach your height you get the signal to jump out and repel you take one deep breath and out you go. There was no better feeling then sliding down that rope under an actual helicopter, beside maybe being handed your wings after the 12-mile ruck march.