Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Frank Wannomae, left, and Capt. Joseph Laurel practiced setting up a defensive position yesterday while Spc. Jeffrey Kinoshita, in the Humvee, maintained watch with his M-249 SAW machine gun.

Schofield aviators drill
for Iraq convoy duty

Reports of three Schofield Barracks soldiers wounded in an Iraq firefight have impressed the importance of training upon Hawaii Army National Guard Spc. Roxanne Shim.

"It's scary," said Shim, the Hawaii Army Guard's only female helicopter crew chief. "It means we have to be more prepared. If we take all this training seriously, everything will turn out good."

Shim, 28, and more than 200 members of Charlie Company, 193rd Aviation, were mobilized in early January for a year-long deployment to Iraq. They will leave late this month. Yesterday, Charlie Company worked on protecting themselves while conducting truck convoy operations.

"The purpose of the convoy operations training is to try to give the soldiers a feeling so when they get into country and they get attacked, there will be a sense of deja vu and they will know what to do," said Capt. Randy Arvay, an active Army adviser. "We don't want them to freeze up.

"We are not giving them textbook solutions, but we're giving them a way to deal with the problem" of improvised explosive devices, which have become the primary weapon of insurgents in Iraq.

In yesterday's battle drills, the 212 Hawaii Army Guard aviators and ground crew members were split into three convoys, each with seven trucks and Humvees.

When a simulated roadside bomb exploded in the midst of the seven-vehicle convoy, the soldiers were required to get off the trucks, set up a security perimeter, rescue the wounded from the disabled truck, remount their vehicles and drive on. All the while, the soldiers had to protect themselves from attackers.

A similar -- but real -- attack occurred Monday night in Kirkuk when a convoy of 2nd Brigade Combat Team soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division were ambushed while conducting a reconnaissance patrol near the city's stadium. Three Schofield Barracks soldiers were wounded and are recuperating in an Army hospital.

"I hope it doesn't happen to any of us," said Hawaii Guard Staff Sgt. Robert Alviar, a helicopter refueler. "We have to keep on stressing safety first."


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