Monday, April 18, 2005

Army helicopter lands at Port Angeles, Sequim high schools in bid to interest recruits

Local news in area where I live, Pacific Northwest. Military Recruitment efforts at work in the high schools.


``We need people.''

That's how 2nd Lt. Ray Leonard, pilot of an Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, summed up the state of his Fort Lewis-based unit as he landed the copter on two North Olympic Peninsula high school campuses.

Leonard and several other soldiers and recruiters touched down at Sequim and Port Angeles high schools, showing off the Black Hawk helicopter to students and staff.

While a steady stream of people gawked at the 1979-model utility tactical transport helicopter, many onlookers unloaded a series of questions about the 65-foot-long aircraft to the Army visitors.

A few students picked up Army National Guard recruiting materials -- including a keychain in the shape of a Army Humvee bearing the National Guard's telephone number -- from a box near the helicopter.

Need for more enlisteds

The pilot for this special mission was Leonard, who explained how his 66th Aviation Brigade at Fort Lewis is in dire need of more personnel.

``We were asked by Army recruiters to come out and show them [the helicopter],'' Leonard said.

``In my unit, we need people. We're short 17 pilots and basically a support crew at every level of the support process.''

While he hasn't been ordered to either Iraq or Afghanistan, Leonard said he understands that it could happen at any moment.

Not only for him, but for anyone who signs up in the Army National Guard.

``Maybe we will stay here longer, or it could be that we will have to go,'' said Leonard, who says his unit mostly carries out missions for the ROTC and to assist in operations around Mount Rainier.

``If you join the military, the odds are you very well might have to go [to Iraq or Afghanistan].''

That observation was not lost on one student, Ted Haeg, who talked at length with Leonard about the helicopter at Port Angeles High School.

``Personally, it's really interesting,'' said Haeg, who said he's considering joining the Army after graduating from high school.

``I've always wanted to be a Ranger, but because of the war, I don't know.

``The whole war aspect is really scary -- getting killed, you know.'' - Army helicopter lands at Port Angeles, Sequim high schools in bid to interest recruits

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President George W. Bush's statement in March 2006 after 3 yrs of war "a future President will have to resolve war in Iraq"


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