‘Imagine being on a rollercoaster’
Spc. Jeanita C. Pisachubbe,
1AD CAB, Public Affairs:
LAREDO, Texas – “Imagine being in the front seat of a rollercoaster with your hands high over your head. That’s what it’s like to fly in an Apache helicopter!”
First Sgt. Francisco Declet shared his excitement with a captive audience of children ages 9 to 12 years old. He did his best to alleviate the trepidation the children had about what it would be like to fly in the Army’s AH-64 Apache, a two-seat attack helicopter. Not all were convinced.
Declet is the first sergeant for A Company, 4th Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division. On a hot July afternoon he and fellow Soldiers from the CAB played tour guides of the CAB’s Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for about 45 children from the city of Laredo’s Drug Education for Youth, or DEFY, summer camp.
Though it is not unusual for the CAB to display its fleet of helicopters for the public to view and enjoy, being in Laredo, Texas, is not a normal occurrence. A task force from CAB was in Laredo on a Joint Task Force-North homeland security mission in support of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. They brought three types of their helicopters with them: the Apache, Black Hawk and HH-60 MEDEVAC Black Hawk.
The children got to see, touch and climb aboard a Black Hawk. Whether buckling themselves into the passenger seats, taking position at the gunner’s window, or imagining, from the pilot’s seat, what it would be like to fly the massive machine, the children had a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“The Laredo International Airport is very thankful to Joint Task Force-North, the United States Army and Border Patrol for their participation and community outreach with this year’s DEFY program,” said Timothy Franciscus-Timm, marketing manager for the airport. “The kids will never forget seeing first-hand in their hometown the helicopters they only see in pictures. As they were told, if they want to join the Army and fly these helicopters, they need to stay off drugs, stay in school and work hard.”
The city of Laredo’s DEFY is a program that works to produce 9- to 12- year-olds with character, leadership and confidence so that they are equipped to engage in a positive, healthy lifestyle as drug-free citizens, and have the necessary skills to be successful in their lives through coordinated community participation, commitment and leadership.
The children’s field trip to the Laredo International Airport included a visit with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the control tower, along with the helicopter viewing.
“It was a great time,” said 1st Lt. Eric Lamb, intelligence officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Bn., 501st Aviation Regt., and liaison between the CAB and airport. “It allows us to show the children of the community what we do. It gives them something to look up to and something to believe in.”
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