AIBANO TRAINING AREA, Japan -- Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment “Black Lions,” 3rd Infantry Division, took part in air assault training utilizing UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters on Aibano Training Area, Japan, June 28, as part of exercise Orient Shield.
Soldiers began the training by reviewing how to load and unload Black Hawks. Once the helicopters arrived, the Soldiers quickly loaded them and flew to their first objective.
“This training is important for us,” said Pfc. Austin Walmark, an infantryman assigned to the Black Lions. “It’s important to be flexible so when anything calls, we can hop on a Black Hawk and be able to secure the area and push out into our mission.”
While the majority of the training taking place during Orient Shield is bilateral with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force counterparts, this training only involved U.S. Soldiers.
“We were picked up by helicopters and brought to another landing zone,” said Spc. Luis Rodriguez, an infantryman assigned to the Black Lions. “Our objective was to secure the landing zone so the others arriving after us could land safely.”
This exercise was the first time some of the junior enlisted experienced an air assault mission.
Rodriguez just moved to a new position as a squad automatic weapon gunner after previously working as radio operator. This was his first time securing a landing zone in his new position.
“Now that I’ve had hands-on on the way to handle my weapon, pulling security, loading and unloading the helicopter, I feel confident in securing landing zones,” Rodriguez said.
After securing the landing zone, the Black Lions practiced medical evacuations and then returned from their mission.
“We’re a flexible, light infantry unit, so it’s great for us to know these things so we can work well with other units,” said Walmark.
Earlier this week, Black Lions practiced boarding and dismounting a JGSDF helicopter. The Black Lions will continue to train closely with their JGSDF counterparts throughout the duration of Orient Shield.
Orient Shield is the largest U.S. Army and JGSDF bilateral field training exercise being executed at various locations throughout Japan to enhance interoperability and test and refine multi-domain and cross-domain operations.