Vigilantes hit the mark at Spearhead
By Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson, 120th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
/ Published October 03, 2015
GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- The aircrew of two Montana Air National Guard C-130 Hercules transport aircraft successfully parachuted training cargo into a designated area at the Spearhead Drop Zone located near Toston, Montana, Aug. 12.
The air drop was held near the end of a six day readiness and capability exercise designed to test the 120th Airlift Wing's ability to mobilize, deploy and execute its new airlift mission.
The training cargo consisted of barrels of water strapped to pallets that simulated the weight of equipment or supplies that could be dropped during a real-world mission.
"It's simulating a 1,000-pound pallet," said 120th AW Small Air Terminal Superintendent Chief Master Sgt. Pat Halko. "It's basically four barrels with some water in it to meet the 1,000 pound weight standard with a 26-foot ring-shot chute on it. They just kicked it out the back of the airplane and tried to hit the point of impact, simulating what would happen in a warzone."
It took a team of 120th AW Airmen to complete the training mission. Air transportation specialists and aircrew coordinated efforts to pack parachutes, load cargo into the aircraft, fly to the drop zone and drop the cargo at the training area.
For two air transportation specialists, Airmen 1st Class Bridger Logan and Cooper Johnson, this was the first large-scale exercise they had participated in while serving as members of the 120th AW.
The long-time friends grew up across the street from each other and also attended the same high school. They continue their friendship while serving together in the MTANG.
In 2013, Johnson joined the Guard and selected the air transportation career field.
"Our shop is a really good group of people," said Johnson. "We have a good time, we get our job done but we still have fun and everyone gets along. It's definitely a good experience."
Logan followed the lead of his good friend Johnson 17 months later and joined the same career field. He was impressed after hearing about his job and the benefits of belonging.
"I think the best part of our job is just how busy we stay," Logan said. "We're pretty important because we are the people who ensure the parachutes are safe before they can come out of the airplane."
The desired point of impact at the Spearhead Drop Zone was marked on the ground by a small orange triangle. One of eight dropped pallets of water appeared to land as close as 100 feet from the marker.
"We work hard in the shop, building this all up and trying to teach the young Airmen what actually goes on," Halko said. "So it's the reward of what we do hard back there for hours and hours and hours. And in just a few seconds we get to see what it all is and it brings it all back to reality."
Once the drop zone was cleared for the recovery team, Airmen drove to the area to remove water from the barrels and load the equipment into trucks for the return to base.