The long road home
On Thanksgiving Day, Members of the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade successfully moved the last Longbow Crew Trainer from Iraq.
They used the “yard dog” to carefully load the two 40-foot trailers onto the C-5 Galaxy at Baghdad International Airport, in downtown Baghdad, Iraq. Task Force Normandy soldiers completed this mission while other service members enjoyed the last holiday meal for the United States Military in Iraq.
“The need to move this thing was at the top echelons,” said Chief Warrant Officer Robert Smith, brigade mobility officer for the 29th CAB. “It was a no-fail situation because [the U.S. Military was] leaving, and they were not going to leave that piece of equipment in Iraq.”
The Longbow Crew Trainer functions as a deployable simulator. It replicates AH-64 Apache Longbow operations and functions. The trainer disassembles and reassembles within seven days.
“It took about five hours to build a ramp and load the C-5. The maximum clearance from the top of the trailer to the top of the C-5 was only like three inches,” said Smith. “Plus, doing it at night just added an extra level of complexity because you just can’t see in there very well.”
“It was a three-day mission. The first day was assessing what needed to be done, the second day was the day of execution and the third day was travel,” said Master Sgt. Leon Carr III, brigade safety and retention noncommissioned officer in charge. “My role was assistant to the driver. When you have that type of equipment and that type of mission you need everybody to be paying attention to details. It was a sensitive mission.”
Master Sgt. Charles Horchner, brigade senior maintenance supervisor, trained on the yard dog on the first day of the mission. This was the only time he has ever loaded cargo on a C-5, as it is not a normal part of his job.
“The only thing I was concerned with was at the right times people had to raise or lower [the yard dog] so it didn’t damage the C-5,” said Horchner. “Once the front wheels of the tractor got on the ramp, you had very little room where you could manipulate the rear. You could still do it, but you have to have the right people on the ground watching you.”
29th CAB awarded Horchner was with the Army Commendation Medal on March 29, 2012, for his actions during this movement. The satisfaction of finishing the mission without incident was most important, he added.