CCAD Delivers Full-Spectrum Aviation Maintenance Training to Soldiers

by Brigitte Rox, CCAD Public Affairs

Rendering

B Company, 834th Aviation Support Brigade assemble before a completed UH-60 in one of CCAD’s hangars. During training, Soldiers get the chance to experience every phase of helicopter disassembly and build only available at CCAD. Photo by Ervey Martinez (RELEASED).

Corpus Christi, TX (January 13, 2015) – The 834th Aviation Support Company, out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, may not have received the warm welcome they expected at the Corpus Christi Army Depot during an unusual cold snap this month, but they didn’t come for the weather.
Company B is here for annual training. The group of 35 arrived on January 4 to work alongside the depot mechanics and engineers that repair and rebuild Army aircraft for a living.

“We came here to get more in-depth training on repairing composite material,” said Staff Sgt. Ron Hartleroad. His toothy grin matched his white protective coveralls. At his collar, a hint of his digicam combat uniform reminded civilians that this aircraft structural repairer is National Guard.

“This is the first time in ten years our unit traveled this far,” he boasted. It turns out that he’s not just excited for a change in scenery – he’s excited for what this training will bring his unit.

“There's a lot of repairs on composite parts that we're not authorized to do at the unit level,” he said. “You have to be at an intermediate or a depot level before you can actually perform the repair. At the depot level, you can do pretty much anything.”

“We’ll take these new skills back to our home unit, or to our deployed environment, and we'll be able to make the necessary repairs ourselves instead of having to send [aircraft] out for repair,” said Sgt. Joseph Herbert, another structural repairer with the 834th.

Hartleroad and Herbert are the only ones training in CCAD’s composite shop with the company this year. "We're the only two that have respirators," chuckled Hartleroad, in matching coveralls and gloves.

Their composite certifications didn’t come easy. They had to pass a rigorous physical exam to ensure they could breathe through the mandatory respirator and, even then, other health risks required the need for vigilance in correctly applying protective clothing and eyewear to avoid the hazard materials they would face.

“So few get composite training,” the sergeant sighed as he pulled on his respirator.

As he surveyed a damaged floorboard to a UH-60 Black Hawk, Hartleroad mentioned that he was in one of CCAD’s rotor blade shops earlier that day: “We were filling patches (voids) in a rotor blade, but the way we were taught in other places was totally different from what they showed us here. They actually showed us a brand new technique that we had never seen before.”

“This will help us be faster and more mission ready.”

“Other training isn't anything near or as far in-depth as it is at CCAD,” Herbert added. “This place is three-to-five times the size of other places I’ve seen. CCAD goes further in-depth. You get to see a larger picture of what's going on (with techniques for composite repair).”

Corpus Christi Army Depot is the only organic industrial base available for Soldiers that offers full-scope in-depth depot-level maintenance training on the very helicopters Soldiers use on their missions.

This makes it a popular spot for training.

The 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), also known as the Night Stalkers, arrived for training the same day.

Master Sgt. Hilario Jimenez, of the 834th, appreciates the opportunities CCAD affords Soldiers that are not typically offered at the unit level: “They're actually tearing down components to the bare minimum and then building them back up to like-new condition” he said.

“Back at home, we might be able to replace one item, two items, or a whole component altogether. We never get to totally disassemble and assemble. Basically everything that they're doing here, we don't get to do back at home. This is good training. It’s really good.”

And at the end of the day, these Soldiers get to watch their hard work pay off on the flight line where the helicopters and components they helped repair come back to life. It is difficult to find a sweeter reward than that in the world of aviation.

Sgt. Ron Hartleroad and Sgt. Joseph Herbert

Staff Sgt. Ron Hartleroad and Sgt. Joseph Herbert survey a damaged UH-60 floorboard due for composite work. They are with the rest of B Company, 834th Combat Support Brigade that came to CCAD for annual training Jan 4-17, 2015. Photo by Ervey Martinez (RELEASED)

 

Designated a Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence for rotary wing aircraft, Corpus Christi Army Depot ensures aviation readiness through overhaul, repair, modification, retrofit, testing, recapitalization, and modernization of helicopters, engines and components. This effort includes world-wide on-site field maintenance teams, analytical crash investigations and chemical material process facilities. CCAD serves as a depot training base for active duty Army, National Guard, and reserve units. CCAD, as South Texas' largest industrial employer, employs more than 5500 personnel and contractors providing an overall economic impact of more than $1.14 Billon to the local community.