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NEWS | April 8, 2022

Zama JROTC Cadets Learn about Army Aviation Mission, Take Black Hawk Flight

Noriko Kudo

CAMP ZAMA Japan -- Cadets from Zama Middle High School’s (ZMHS) Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps battalion visited the U.S. Army Aviation Battalion Japan (USABBJ) here April 7 to learn from the Soldiers as part of their Cadet Leadership Challenge.

As part of the day’s event, the cadets also got to fly in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

Retired Lt. Col. Douglas Fields, the JROTC instructor, said the Cadet Leadership Challenge is a weeklong event in which the cadets learn about the many facets of teamwork: working, planning, training and executing a mission together.

The cadets’ visit to the USAABJ’s Kastner Airfield was the conclusion of a week of training and was meant to be a “woosah moment” to allow them to relax and to reward them for their hard work and training, Fields said.

“Looking at the smiles on the cadets’ faces, it has been really good week of training for them,” he said.

Sgt. William Douglass, assigned to USAABJ, led the cadets through the training portion. He showed the group the tasks he and his team do on a daily basis and demonstrated how to safely enter and exit a helicopter. They then boarded the Black Hawk for a flight over the city.

Douglass said the cadets seemed to be very excited about getting to fly in the aircraft.

“They were very receptive and asked the right questions,” Douglass said. “They did very well.”

Cadet Pfc. Kara Crispell, an eighth-grader at ZMHS, said she enjoyed learning about how the helicopters work and how the entire crew works together to get the helicopters up in the air and maintain them. She remarked that the flight was her first time being in a helicopter, and she enjoyed the view of the nearby mountains and coastal area.

“This was a great opportunity for me to see how everything works [in an aviation battalion], since I plan on going into the Air Force or the Army and being a pilot in the future.”

Cadet Master Sgt. Joseph Suyama, a senior at ZMHS, said he was amazed to learn about all the work that goes into flying helicopters. From the Kastner air tower, he said he also got to learn more about the planning that goes into safely coordinating all the flights.

Suyama said he was grateful for his instructors for arranging the day with the aviation Soldiers, and for all the work that went into making their Cadet Leadership Challenge a success.

“It has been an awesome week,” Suyama said. “It was really cool to see Japan from up in the sky.”

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