Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Boy Scouts from Troop 747 – Santee Cooper, Moncks Corner – and Cub Scout Troop 717 – St. John's Christian Academy – recently converged on McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover to tour the S.C. Army National Guard flight facility.
Capt. Steve Seigler of Lexington, an AH-64D Apache Longbow pilot with the South Carolina Army National Guard First of the 151st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, provided the Scouts with a tour of the facility and allowed the young men and their parents the opportunity to see and touch the helicopters and equipment our state’s citizen-soldiers utilize to help keep our country safe.
"Before our tour today, I don't think many of the boys or their parents realized the S.C. National Guard has all of this great equipment here at McEntire," said Carmen Biering, the den mother-in-charge of the Scouts' visit. "It amazed all of us to learn that our S.C. Apache pilots were the first Army helicopter pilots to land on a Navy vessel at sea during their tour of duty in Iraq and Kuwait last year."
Many of the Scouts, who are currently working on their aviation merit badges, learned the importance of staying in school, some basics about aerodynamics, map reading, and the types of equipment the pilots have to carry on all of their missions.
The Generation 3 Air Warrior Survival Vest, a life raft, Air Warrior Body Armor, Mustang Dry Suit, and Integrated Helmet and Display System are some of the individual pieces of equipment the Scouts were introduced to, but the piece that garnered the most attention was Seigler’s “breakout knife.”
When asked by 11-year-old Marshall Biering why he needed a breakout knife, Seigler explained, “Well, in case we have to land the aircraft in an emergency – for example, in the water – and the canopy won’t open, we can bang the butt-end of the knife on the glass and egress out of the cockpit.”
The Scouts also learned about the vital role S.C. National Guard aviators, their maintenance crews, life support personnel and airfield operators have played in the nation's global war on terrorism, as well as support they provide in disaster relief and humanitarian missions.
Maj. Scott Bell is a S.C. National Guard Historian.