Virginia Guard aviators depart to support Southwest border mission

A crew of three Soldiers from the Sandston-based Detachment 1, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment departs for Texas aboard a UH-72 Lakota helicopter from the Virginia National Guard’s Aviation Support Facility Aug. 27 to provide aerial reconnaissance support to the Texas National Guard mission to counter illegal immigration on the Southwest border. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Sandston-based Detachment 1, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment departed for Texas aboard a UH-72 Lakota helicopter from the Virginia National Guard’s Aviation Support Facility Aug. 27. The three-Soldier crew will provide aerial reconnaissance support to the Texas National Guard mission to counter illegal immigration on the Southwest border.

Over the next four months, about 20 Soldiers in air crews as well as ground support personnel will rotate through Texas in support of the mission.

The Lakota helicopter is equipped with a new Mission Equipment Package that includes a forward centerline-mounted camera system with advanced optics and infrared sensors, a high intensity searchlight, cockpit and cabin touch-screen displays with moving map, a video management system, a digital video recorder and data downlink system, plus an external hoist and additional avionics and communications equipment.

Virginia Guard aviators last supported the Southwest Border mission in 2008. Soldiers from the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment spent weeks assisting United States Customs and Border Protection with the effort to secure the U.S./ Mexico border in Arizona as Task Force Raven and Task Force Diamondback for Operation Jump Start.

In addition to security operations, the Soldiers also saved the lives of many illegal immigrants that became stranded in the desert without any water or medical aid.

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View more photos on Flickr:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157631287983482/

Additional information:
29th ID troops patrol the border in Arizona
http://vko.va.ngb.army.mil/VirginiaGuard/news/june2008/224thOJS.html