Soldiers of 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, conducted sling load training on Aug. 9 at Honor Field.

Soldiers of 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, conducted sling load training on Aug. 9 at Honor Field.
“The training, which consists of hooking up the M119 Howitzer to a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, is the stepping stone for more large-scale training,” said Cpt. Matthew Roehm, commander, Battery A, 5th Bn, 25th FA.
Roehm said the next steps include picking up ammo and personnel to move them to alternate locations so his soldiers get as real to deployment training as possible.
Roehm, having experience in sling loading from the brigade’s most recent deployment to Afghanistan, understands how important it is to be properly trained to achieve mission success.
“It’s just basic training to get our guys confident in their rigging abilities, (to see) that what they’re doing on the howitzer will hold the weight once the aircraft picks it up," he said. "It’s important because downrange, especially like the last deployment I was on, you have to move these howitzers around the battlefield a lot to support different COPs (combat outposts) and missions. You also have to do services on them, so picking them up and taking them back to the main FOBs (forward operating base) for repair is important.”
Spc. Jacob Hurst, gunner and cannon crew member, B Battery, 5th Bn., 25th FA, who recently deployed, used this training to not only refresh himself but train his soldiers on things they have yet to see in their brief Army careers.
“It’s a lot easier for me training someone else because as I’m saying it out loud, it helps me to rethink what I’m doing which helps me make less mistakes,” Hurst said.
“It’s not hard to do; it’s just a lot to do," he said. "You have to be very precise in what you’re doing. There is a small margin of error –– if we get a link up wrong, the Blackhawk won’t be balanced and it will drop it right away. If something isn’t tied right or hooked up right, the legs could fall out from underneath.
“It’s something we really need to know because in a deployment situation, if your gun goes down and you need another one, you need to know how to sling load it to make sure your weapon will fly right," he said. "That way, you can get it out and bring in a new one to use.”
Staff Sgt. Nicolas Franko, section chief, B Btry, 5th Bn., 25th FA, appreciates the training to keep himself and the other soldiers refreshed on part of their jobs.
“It’s realistic training to what we do downrange," Franko said. "We sling loaded howitzers all the time. It gives the new guys who are just joining the Army a feel of how it works and feels with the birds overhead. You’re always training to go downrange and to be a good field artilleryman.”