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Minnesota National Guard
Army Aviator reflects on Government Shutdown

Minnesota National Guard Capt Shannon Gregory, Operations Officer for the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, watches a UH-60 Black Hawk get ready to depart, a welcomed sight after not flying for 22 days

The government shutdown furloughed most personnel at the Army Aviation Support Facility for nearly three weeks From fuelers to flight operations personnel, it takes six to eight additional technicians to support a Black Hawk in flight and two hours of maintenance once it is on the ground With ten UH-60 Black Hawks and 1 C-12 Huron fixed-wing aircraft in the hanger, the layoffs affected many people

"It's tough to tell someone not to come in to work and then get them motivated again," said Gregory In addition to the full time personnel, contacting all of the traditional Soldiers when drill was cancelled was a disheartening experience

Each National Guard pilot has to fly several hours every month under varying conditions like night vision goggles and instrument flying, to maintain their annual requirements With the impending government shutdown, military leaders had the foresight to maximize flying hours prior to the shutdown But lost time is time that can't be made up

"A month after the government shutdown, we are 65-70 percent below where we should be" said Gregory An aviator since 2000, he has seen his share of challenges He led Soldiers in a combat zone, he landed his aircraft on a Navy Destroyer, but dealing with government furloughs of employees, was a challenge he could not fly his way out of

Despite the layoffs, the Minnesota National Guard was still ready to fly into action in the event of a state activation "We were prepared for emergencies with state funding, to help the citizens of Minnesota if those needs arose," said Gregory

Nov 1, 2013
Story and photos by Russ Gamache
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs Intern

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