Idaho Army, Air Guardsmen earn air assault badges

Army Soldiers take part in the rappelling portion of Air Assault School at Camp Rilea, Warrenton, Oregon, June 27, 2019. (National Guard photo by John Hughel, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)
July 14, 2019

Two Idaho National Guardsmen graduated from the U.S. Army’s Air Assault School June 28 at Camp Rilea, Oregon. Idaho Army National Guard Soldier Cadet Porter Haux and Idaho Air National Guard Airman Senior Airman Matthew McKee completed the 10-day course to earn their air assault badges.

In addition to completing air assault school, McKee also graduated from the Army’s Rappel Master Course July 3.

“They were both good courses,” McKee said. “It was a good experience.”

McKee, a tactical air control party specialist with the 124th Fighter Wing’s 124th Air Support Operations Squadron, spent eight years in the Army Reserve before joining the Idaho Air National Guard in January 2018.

He becomes the unit’s third rappel master, which gives the squadron the required number of qualified airmen to conduct its own rappel training. The unit plans to train with the Idaho Army National Guard’s 1-183rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, which flies UH-60 Black Hawks.

The battalion’s Black Hawks supported the training courses, which included the Army’s Pathfinder Course.

Haux, a junior in Boise State University’s ROTC program, said he attended the course to become a better Soldier.

“I figured air assault course was something that I could do to better myself and further my career while doing something few people learn how to do,” he said. “I got paid to learn how to rappel from a helicopter, which is something people probably would pay a lot of money to learn how to do.”

Haux has served in the Idaho Army National Guard since November 2017. His father, Maj. Kelly Haux, is an active duty officer.

“It’s been my dream to be a Solider since I was capable of dreaming,” Haux said. “I always wanted to be a Soldier like my dad.”

The air assault course featured 10 days of instruction in three phases; combat assault operations, sling load operations and rappelling.

In phase one Soldiers and Airmen received training on combat assault, aircraft orientation, aircraft safety, aeromedical evacuation, pathfinder operations and hand and arm signals. In phase two they learned to prepare, rig and inspect various military sling-loads for equipment and vehicles such as the M998 HMMWV and M1102 Cargo Trailer. In the final phase Soldiers received instruction on tying a rappel seat, hook-up techniques, lock-in procedures, belay procedures and rappelling.

Throughout training students received several written and performance-oriented tests, conducted multiple runs and foot marches and rappelled from multiple towers and rotary wing aircraft.

Towards the end of the course, Soldiers demonstrated what they learned while repelling from a Black Hawk 90 feet above the ground.