NEWS | May 19, 2020

Utah Guard Aviation Fights Saddle Fire

By Ileen Kennedy 2nd General Aviation Support Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment

Black Hawk helicopter aircrews from 2nd General Aviation Support Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment, Utah National Guard, were called in to fight the Saddle Fire, May 14, 2020.
    Two UH-60 Black Hawks were in the air above Midway by 9 a.m. and dropped 15 bucket loads of water on the fire before having to refuel in Heber, Utah around 11 a.m.
    Initially, the aircraft pulled water from a catch pond in the middle of a neighborhood and then were asked to move much further away, flying to Deer Creek Reservoir to dip water.  
    "We had two dip sites, we had people around the first dip site, we had people walking in front of the aircraft which was unsafe," said Chief Warrant 3 Paul Merrill, one of the pilots of the Black Hawk. "So they moved us off of that and put us down to Deer Creek Reservoir. That was about a seven-minute flight from the fire. Once law enforcement got all that secure they put us back and had us dipping out of the catch pond again, which made it so we were making about four minute returns. We were able to put maybe double the water on the fire then when we were having to go all the way to Deer Creek."
    The fire was in an area with steep terrain and limited access, according to fire crews, making it crucial for support from the air. Strong and erratic winds spread the flames from 200 acres Tuesday night to 630 acres Wednesday morning, by Wednesday evening it had burned 683 acres and was listed as 70 percent contained.
    "The terrain was very steep and it was a very short flight between where we were dipping water and where we were dropping water, so it was a pretty significant climb. The wind changed about every third dip so we were having to reassess where the winds would be coming from and how we were able to drop, because we would be dropping into a head wind and then we would be dropping into a tailwind," said Merrill.
    Many homes were in close proximity to the fire and some were evacuated but fire officials said no structures were threatened.
    "The fire had burned down to maybe within 50 to 100 yards from the backs of the homes, but the wind had pushed it up the hill," said Merrill. "It was probably a quarter mile from the homes when we got there, and then when we left, it was probably half a mile or so up the hill from the homes, and we continued to push it up the hill. The winds were helping and then by the time the second aircrew left they had called off the aircraft because it was burning far enough away from the homes to not be a danger to the homes anymore."
    The four aircrew flying two Black Hawks were able to drop between 85 to 90 buckets of water, with a little more than 13 hours of flying. 
    "We found out about the fire the night before and within 12 hours we had aircraft on the fire," said Merrill. "It shows how well our maintainers do to keep our aircraft in the state of readiness, to be able to launch with that short of notice. It shows how dedicated they are to get in and get the aircraft ready and get them painted and loaded. Without those maintainers and the guys that get the aircraft ready, being as good at their job as they are, it certainly wouldn't go as easy and we wouldn't be able to respond as quickly as we do."
The fire forced the closures of Wasatch Mountain State Park and the Dutch Hollow Trail System, as well as The Phosphate and The Face trails, officials said Wednesday.
”We had a dry last month, and it has been a little warmer so fuels are susceptible,” said Kait Webb with the Utah Division of Forestry and State Lands. "There is wildfire risk in the state of Utah right now so people really need to be responsible and think about wildfire safety when they are out and about.”
    The Black Hawk’s were able to push the fire away from homes and assist in bringing the fire closer to full containment before returning back to the Army Aviation Support Facility in West Jordan. 

 

 

 

Your Career Starts Here

U.S. Army Cpl. Spencer Fayles with Utah’s 144th Area Support Medical Company, receives a certificate of participation during the Region VII Best Warrior Competition award ceremony on the island of Guam, May 26, 2022. This annual competition featured the best noncommissioned officer and Soldier from eight different states and territories including Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. Testing competitors’ skills and knowledge and pushing them to their limits, the competition graded each participant in key areas such as basic Soldier skills, marksmanship under stress, land-navigation, and physical fitness. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack)
Two Utah Soldiers awaken "Warrior Spirit" at Region VII Best Warrior Competition
By Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack | June 4, 2022
A Soldier’s transformation into a warrior is difficult to describe. Hand-picked by leadership, proving themselves with every drop of sweat, every sore muscle, and every labored breath; Soldiers who compete naturally don the...

Brig. Gen. Frank Gräfe, the defense attaché from the Federation of Germany to the United States, (left) and Brig. Gen. Daniel D. Boyack, Commander of the Utah Air National Guard & Assistant Adjutant General-Air, (right) pose using the iconic “thumbs up” that Gail Halvorsen was known for on May 20th at the Provo City Cemetary. The Utah Air National Guard was in attendance to show support and honor the heroic efforts of Gail Halvorsen. (Utah Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt Nicholas Perez)
Honoring a war hero who delivered hope
By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Perez | May 31, 2022
Ret. U.S. Air Force Col. Gail Halvorsen, known as the “Candy Bomber”, was honored by top leadership from the Utah Air National Guard, Utah National Guard, and Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany with the laying of two...

The Utah National Guard FEMA Region VIII Homeland Response Force held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Collapsed Structure Venue Site which included a demonstration and static display of capabilities May 10, 2022 at Camp Williams, Utah. The CSVS is one of only three military owned Urban Search and Rescue training venues west of the Rocky Mountains. This CSVS will allow both military search and extract and civilian search and rescue teams the opportunity to train together and build those necessary partnerships needed in an “all hazards” response. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Sgt. John Etheridge)
Camp Williams adds a Premiere Search and Extraction Training Site to Benefit the Homeland Response Force, State, Region, and Nation.
By Lt. Col. Robert Ramage Warden | May 11, 2022
The Utah National Guard has a new training site for the Region VIII Homeland Response Force’s search and extraction team, as well as partner civilian urban search and rescue teams. Lt. Col. Erick R. Wiedmeier, commander of...

Members of the Combined Veterans Honor Guard joined members from the Utah National Guard Honor Guard in conducting military funeral honors for the remains of Cpl. David Milano April 29, 2022 in Ogden, Utah. Milano went missing in action Dec. 2, 1950, during the Korean War. After 71 years, his remains have been repatriated to the United States and have been laid to rest on U.S. soil. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Sgt. John Etheridge)
A Family's Faith: Chosin Soldier Comes Home
By Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack | May 3, 2022
Often referred to as “the Forgotten War,” the Korean War’s significance tends to be overshadowed by World War II and the Vietnam War. Even in that light, it’s nothing short of a miracle that Korean War service members are...

Chief Warrant Officer4 Deena Haag
The Utah National Guard Celebrates Women’s History Month in March 2022
By (Courtesy article) | March 31, 2022
During the month of March, the Utah National Guard celebrates Women’s History and honors and acknowledges the struggles and achievements of American women throughout the history of the United States. Women have played a vital...

The 2-222nd Field Artillery Battalion, “Triple Deuce,” held a reunion for all current and former members of the unit March 19, 2022, at the Stanley A. Staheli Readiness Center in St. George, Utah. This event marks the fifth time in the last eight years that the group has rallied to reunite and reflect on their time spent in service to the nation, state, and community of Southern Utah.
2-222 Field Artillery Battalion “Triple Deuce” holds reunion for former and current members
By Maj. Emilio Suazo | March 19, 2022
The 2-222nd Field Artillery Battalion, “Triple Deuce,” held a reunion for all current and former members of the unit March 19, 2022, at the Stanley A. Staheli Readiness Center in St. George, Utah...

Brig. Gen. Tyler Smith receives his certificate of retirement from Maj. Gen. Michael Turley, adjutant general, Utah National Guard, at his retirement ceremony, March 14, 2022, at Camp Williams, Utah. Smith, whose most recent assignment was assistant adjutant general-Army, Utah National Guard, was joined by family, friends and community members to celebrate his 36-year career in the military. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Sgt. John Etheridge)
Brig. Gen. Tyler B. Smith, former assistant adjutant general-Army, retires after 35-years of service
By Staff Sgt. Ariel Solomon | March 16, 2022
Family, friends, co-workers and community members gathered to say farewell to Brig. Gen. Tyler Smith, the former assistant adjutant general-Army, Utah National Guard, at his retirement ceremony March 15, 2022, in the Lundell...

Maj. Gen Michael Turley, adjutant general, Utah National Guard, passes the organizational colors to Brig. Gen. Joseph Green during a change-of-command ceremony March 13, 2022 at Draper, Utah. During the change-of-command ceremony, Brig. Gen. Joseph Green assumed the role of assistant adjutant general-Army, Utah National Guard, from Brig. Gen. Tyler Smith. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ariel J. Solomon)
Utah National Guard promotes and welcomes new assistant adjutant general-Army at change-of-command ceremony
By 1st Sgt. John Etheridge | March 14, 2022
The Utah National Guard welcomed its new assistant adjutant general-Army at a change-of-command ceremony March 13, 2022, at its headquarters building in Draper, Utah...

Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Brown passes the 97th Troop Command colors to Col. Tammy Manwaring during the change-of-command ceremony on Camp Williams, Utah, March 13, 2022. Manwaring will then pass the colors on to her successor, symbolically relinquishing her responsibility as the unit's commander. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Cpl. Alejandro Lucero)
97th Troop Command conducts change of responsibility
By Cpl. Alejandro Lucero | March 12, 2022
The 97th Troop Command, Utah Army National Guard, conducted a change-of-command ceremony at the Lundell Readiness Center on Camp Williams, Utah, March 13, 2022. During the ceremony, Col. Tammy Manwaring relinquished command...

Sgt. First Class Robert Conder, a soldier with the 141st Military Intelligence Battalion, Utah National Guard, and members of Boy Scout troop take a break from collecting and loading donations for the Scouting for Food drive in Draper, Utah, Feb. 12, 2022. The Utah National Guard is committed to the Scouting for Food drive as it unites Utahns from multiple counties in the fight against hunger. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Alejandro Lucero)
Utah National Guard Assists Boy Scouts to Feed Utah Families
By Sgt. James Bunn | Feb. 17, 2022
Soldiers from the Utah National Guard partnered with Boy Scouts of America to collect food donations across Utah for Scouting for Food Day Feb. 12, 2022. This year approximately 75 Utah National Guard members helped deliver...