Virginia Soldiers truck UH-1 from Pickett to new headquarters site

Virginia National Guard Soldiers transport a vintage UH-1H helicopter to the Defense Supply Center Richmond where the Soldiers will display it outside the new Joint Force Headquarters, March 10, 2018. The Soldiers retrieved this UH-1H from Fort Pickett, refurbished and transported it to the new Joint Force Headquarters at DSCR where theY will display it with other pieces of Virginia Army National Guard history. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Matt Lyman)

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — A multi-unit effort resulted in the addition of a UH-1 Huey helicopter to the historical artifacts on display at the site of the new Virginia National Guard headquarters building March 10, 2018, at Defense Supply Center Richmond in Chesterfield County, Virginia.

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to Fort Pickett’s Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site prepared the aircraft that was then transported by Soldiers assigned to the Danville-based 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 429th Brigade Support Battalion from Fort Pickett to DSCR. Soldiers assigned to Sandston-based Bravo and Delta Companies, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment used the mission as an opportunity to simulate a downed aircraft recovery scenario and battle damage assessment and repair mission.

“The concept of operations today is removing a UH-1H from Fort Pickett to Defense Supply Center Richmond via the 429th Transportation Company with oversight from Delta Company, 2-224th,” explained Chief Warrant Officer 3 Greg Henrich a production control officer assigned to Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment.

The downed aircraft recovery team mission was important to the overall mission because ensuring the Army can recover downed aircraft helps mitigate security threats by recovering or destroying aircraft before it can fall into enemy hands, Henrich said.

The Soldiers were issued the order to recover the UH-1H Huey and dispatched to the aircraft location to assess the situation. Their assessment concluded they could recover the aircraft instead of notionally destroying it, which worked out perfectly because the vintage UH-1H’s new place of duty was to be a static display in front of the new Joint Force Headquarters building.

This movement required quite a bit of cross-unit coordination and there were at least two units involved at every point of the operation from when the Huey was loaded onto a lowboy trailer at Fort Pickett to when it arrived at DSCR.

The high level of coordination provided a good training environment to not only execute a DART mission, but also gave the Soldiers experience coordinating for assets that might not be organic to their unit, but essential to accomplishing this and similar mission sets, Henrich said.

The Soldiers cordoned off the area to ensure traffic would not interfere with the off-load and used a forklift to lift the aircraft off the lowboy. The whole mission took only a few hours from loading the Huey to unloading and reassembly.

“This particular Huey used to belong to the 224th and we are placing it in front of the new Joint Force Headquarters as a static display. Eventually we will be tagging it up with the names of significant pilots and crew chiefs who flew during the Vietnam War,” said Henrich.

After a ceremony later this year, Soldiers will officially position this aircraft in its place of honor outside the new Joint Force Headquarters building, allowing generations to learn and enjoy the history of Virginia National Guard aviation.

“This is motivation. This is where we were, where we have come from and to where we are now. That particular airframe is used around the world as a workhorse, the Army does not use it anymore, but to know that other nations and other organizations within our country use it shows the significance of rotary-wing aircraft,” added Henrich.

The UH-1 joins a 105mm M101A1 towed howitzer christened by then-Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe December 8, 2017, at the new headquarters location.

Soldiers from the Virginia Army National Guard Combined Support Maintenance Shop prepared the howitzer for display after receiving it from the Center of Military History in Anniston, Alabama, in April 2017. The 111th Field Artillery Regiment was equipped with the same model M101 howitzer in World War II, and its operational lifespan continued into the Vietnam War-era.

The 102,000 square foot headquarters facility is being built on a 13.6-acre site in the northern section of DSCR with a cost of approximately $30 million. It will provide workspace for the Adjutant General of Virginia, the Virginia National Guard Joint Staff and Air National Guard Staff currently located at Mullins Readiness Center in Sandston, Virginia.

The current state headquarters in Sandston houses the adjutant general and his senior staff, as well full-time federal and state employees and traditional Soldiers and Airmen of the Virginia National Guard Joint Staff and Air National Guard staff. The readiness center also houses the Joint Operations Center that manages Virginia National Guard operations during routine and emergency response operations. The Virginia Army National Guard staff is located at Fort Pickett near Blackstone, and the Virginia Defense Force staff is located at Waller Depot in Richmond.

The Virginia National Guard Joint Staff provides support for the entire state in the areas of operations, human resources, family programs, sustainment and logistics and public affairs.

The Virginia National Guard currently has several activities and units already on DSCR including the U.S. Property and Fiscal Office Supply Support Activity that includes the Guard’s Central Issue Facility, the Combined Support Maintenance Shop and Company B, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

The current facility in Sandston only provides 58 percent of the authorized space for a state headquarters, and the new facility increases available space to 98 percent, explained Col. Charlton Dunn, the Virginia National Guard construction and facilities management officer.

The funding for the State Headquarters is predominantly federal, with the Department of Military Affairs contributing approximately $471,000 of its own state funds to provide space for its employees, Dunn said. The Virginia Air National Guard is providing approximately $1.02 million for the Air Guard staff with the remaining funds to be provided by the Virginia Army National Guard.

The new facility will be built in compliance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver requirements and will make use of ground-source heat pumps, photovoltaic solar panels and natural gas to create an energy efficient building now and for future generations of employees, Dunn said. This project utilizes Construction Manager at Risk, Building Information Modeling, and a commissioning agent to ensure the best product at appropriate initial and lifecycle costs within existing time constraints.