By Spc. Aubree Rundle
Task Force Pegasus Public Affairs
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — The 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade troopers and their “best friends” executed their first canine-hoist training mission July 15.
The purpose of the training was to familiarize military canines “Liza and Ronnie”, along with their handlers and MEDEVAC crews, with procedures used when responding to injured canine handling teams.
“In the event that the military dogs or their owners are injured while conducting missions outside the wire, this is how the MEDEVAC would recover their teams,” said Army 1st Sgt. Dean Bissey, Company C “Dustoff”, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd CAB, 82nd Airborne Division. “It’s good training for us and shows these canine teams how to respond if a rescue helicopter is called in.”
Bissey tested the MEDEVAC team’s ability to respond to an emergency by setting off smoke bombs to signal the need for an evacuation. The hoist was lowered from the Black Hawk and the two canine teams were hooked up and raised to the safety of the helicopter.
“Liza has been out on missions with special operations teams since we arrived in theater,” said handler Army Staff Sgt. David Hornsby, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). “The hoist was a walk in the park for her.”
Hoist training has been performed in the past, however, not with canines involved, according to Bissey. He said this was an opportunity for the MEDEVAC teams and canine teams to familiarize themselves with different missions and evacuations that may occur in the future.
“This was Ronnie’s first time in a helicopter and he handled it pretty well,” said handler Army Staff Sgt. Michael Hile, 554th Military Police Company.