Soldiers assigned to 96th Aviation Support Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), recently deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as part of Task Force Ugly.
Fifteen Soldiers from Task Force Ugly deployed within 48 hours Sept. 11 to assist in loading CH-47 helicopters to transport to Soto Cano, Honduras, in support of the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, U.S. Southern Command, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in Haiti.
Staff Sergeant Cody Baur, a native of Holland, Michigan, served as the CH-47 technical inspector while in Cuba and Honduras.
“My role was not only giving experience but ensuring the aircraft was put together correctly before Capt. [Andrew] Cihak and Chief Warrant 3 [Andrew] Lau flew and tested the aircrafts,” Baur said. “Being the senior CH-47 technical inspector and having that experience it allowed the team to really get the job done in a timely yet proficient manner.”
Lau, a native of Dickeyville, Wisconsin, said he was selected for the deployment based for two reasons.
“One of the reasons is because I’ve been a test pilot and have 25 years of experience,” he said. “I was also stationed in Honduras.”
Lau has more than 1,900 hours of flight time.
“I have a vast amount of knowledge and technical maintenance experience and the hours of flight times I’ve accumulated over the years made me a perfect fit for this deployment,” he said.
Staff Sergeant Christopher McRae was the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Soldiers who were working on the aircrafts.
“I was in charge of the day-to-day maintenance operations. I made sure the flow of work was smooth and everyone was getting their work done,” McRae said. “Truly the Soldiers are the ones that made it easy,” McRae said.
The Soldiers of Task Force Ugly spend two weeks on deployment.
“We did this to assist the aviation unit in Honduras with tearing down the aircrafts and moving them from one place to another and building them back up,” said Spc. Ashae Allison, a CH-47 helicopter repairer. “It was very fun and exciting just being out there in Honduras.”
Allison has only been in the Army for about one year, so working on the aircrafts with flight engineers provided a great learning experience and an opportunity to meet new people.
“Being the only female on the team with no prior background in mechanics makes this job very challenging, but also very rewarding,” she said. “I learned something new every day. If I could, I’d do it all again.”
Not only did the team contribute to the rebuilding and transportation of CH-47 helicopters, while they were in Cuba, McRae lead a group in cleaning up the beaches on the base.
“Seeing our Soldiers take some initiative in wanting to take time out of their day to help the local community by cleaning the beaches shows how great of a group we had,” he said.
Cihak, the officer in charge, was grateful for the opportunity to participate.
“The biggest take away for this deployment was how humbling it was to support units around the world and support in efforts,” he said. “Taking a highly-trained and qualified group of Soldiers around the world was pretty great experience.”