History
Minnesota National Guard
Task Force Aviation: Flying High Over the Twin Cities

By Pvt. Cassandra Monroe
135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Iowa National Guard


ST. PAUL, Minn. " Task Force Aviation, based at Holman Field near the St. Paul Municipal Airport, stands ready for any rapid reaction air transport needs that may come their way during the Republican National Convention.

Task Force Aviation, made up of Minnesota National Guard aviators and aircraft from surrounding states, is supporting local and federal law enforcement agencies by providing rapid, aviation-lift capability in the unlikely event a significant incident occurs.  

These aviators have been preparing for this mission for months.

"We put the plan together, and figured out what we could and could not support, helicopter wise,"said Col. Mike Huddleston, the state Army Aviation officer for the Minnesota National Guard. "We've made sure we put the right crews with the right mix, as well as understanding what the other sister agencies are bringing forward for supporting the convention."

One big advantage these Minnesota National Guard aviators have is that they know this area very well, said Huddleston. "We can fly just about anywhere, and get there quicker than anyone else, as well as get into the area fairly easily," he said.

While speed is important, so is the unit's ability to move people and equipment.  "We've got the capability to transport a good number of equipment and personnel," said Huddleston. "A UH-60 Black Hawk can fit about 12 people, while a CH-47 Chinook can carry about 30 to 35 people."

Sgt. Nathaniel Ernst is a crew chief whose duties include aircraft maintenance, preparing the aircraft for flight operations and controlling passengers on the aircraft during flights.

"We're expected to respond between 15 to 30 minutes,"said Ernst. "We're here on 12-hours shifts, so anytime a call comes in, we'll be prepared."
           
Preparing for this mission was not without its challenges. A big concern was getting enough aircraft and personnel ready to go for the mission, since some Minnesota aviation units are deployed or waiting for aircraft to return from deployments, said Ernst.

"Our team borrowed aircraft from different states, such as North Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan in order to prepare for the mission," he said.
           
Although some Task Force Aviation members just returned from deployment, their transition has gone well, which helped them prepare for this mission.


"We recently got back from Iraq about a month ago, and we were given the word back then to start making initial plans for that the convention,"said Chief Warrant Officer Curtis Skoog, a standardization instructor pilot with the 2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 147th Aviation.

"It's great to be back. The deployment went really well for the unit. You want to get back with your families and reestablish relationships. So coming back to work has been an easy transition. We've been planning on this convention for a couple months,"said Skoog

Overseas deployments have increased these aviators' skills and experience, and helped them prepare for this mission.  "It's a breath of fresh air to give crews a left and right limit, and you know they're going to take that ball and run with the product you need, which is supporting the task force commander for anything he may need,"said Huddleston, of some of the crew's recent deployments.
           
"I think as a whole, were doing an outstanding job,"said Huddleston. "We're like the lifeguard, you never need them, but when you do, we're right here. The crew has a small frame of time to get out and be there, ready to respond. We're excited to support this event and we're just having a lot of fun."

September 2, Task Force Aviation: Flying High Over the Twin Cities - Low-Res




Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

National Guard unit participates in Welcome Home Ceremony Saturday

Posted: 2015-08-28  11:35 AM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 27

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. - Forty-two Soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard's 204th Area Support Medical Company are scheduled for a welcome home ceremony Saturday at Century College, in White Bear Lake, Minn. after a nine-month deployment to Egypt.

"Our soldiers provided medical support for the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), which is comprised of more than 1,600 service members from 12 nations," said Army Cpt. Jonathan Vang, 204th Area Support Medical Company commander.



Dual status commander clears a path for unified disaster response

Posted: 2015-08-27  03:30 PM
Minnesota National Guard The Minnesota National Guard's Vigilant Guard exercise stepped up its real-world relevance on Aug. 24, 2015, when the Commanding General of the 34th Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Neal Loidolt, was appointed as the exercise's Dual Status Commander.

The magnitude of the simulated incidents integrated into the Vigilant Guard exercise - including a chemical spill from an overturned railcar, massive landslides, flooding and other events that could affect Minnesota communities - prompted a fictional declaration of a state of emergency by the federal government. The scale of the emergency response, in addition to federal assets being committed to the disaster relief efforts, necessitated the need for a single commander to coordinate military efforts.



Vigilant Guard Improves Civilian, Guard Emergency Responsiveness

Posted: 2015-08-27  10:15 AM
Minnesota National Guard More than 1,400 participants from the Minnesota and Wisconsin National Guard joined approximately 500 participants from state, federal and local emergency response agencies to participate in the Vigilant Guard exercise from Aug. 24 to 28, 2015, at three training sites across the state; Duluth, Camp Ripley and St. Paul.

At Camp Ripley, the exercise took place at the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility. Twenty-four buildings and more than 200 cameras allow users to record live training from almost any vantage point.



Guard Aeromedical Teams strengthen skills during Vigilant Guard

Posted: 2015-08-26  03:10 PM
Airmen provide air evac to role-playing patients During natural disasters or other state emergencies, saving time saves lives. If civilian capabilities are overwhelmed, National Guard and other military resources can be called upon to quickly move critical patients from remote areas to medical facilities. The capabilities of the Minnesota National Guard's 109th Aeromedical Squadron were a natural fit for Vigilant Guard, a state-wide exercise testing the ability of military and civilian organizations to work together.

"Our role in the exercise is to stabilize and transport patients from the field to higher echelons of care," said 109th AES Director of Operations Air Force Maj. Jeramy Browning. "We strive to provide the best care in the air. Our highly trained flight medics care for sick and wounded patients, maintain their health and well-being aboard the plane - getting them to the definitive care they need."



Article archive
 
top