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NEWS | US California National Guard US Army Aviation

California National Guard Prepares for Fire Season

California Army National Guard, 40th Combat Aviation Brigade Task Force Medevac were training at Folsom Lake in Sacramento with Bambi bucket for the fire season.

  • California Army National Guard, 40th Combat Aviation Brigade Task Force Medevac were training at Folsom Lake in Sacramento with Bambi bucket for the fire season.
  • Task Force Medevac Soldier of the Year prepares for fire season

US Army, April 07, 2015 - SACRAMENTO, Calif. by Sgt Ian Kummer – What started as a childhood fancy has grown into a career ambition that has propelled a Soldier around the world.

California Army National Guard Spc. Dustin Sullivan, a crew chief with the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade’s Task Force Medevac, has always wanted to fly. If he plays his cards right, he may soon get to do just that. But for the time being, there are other challenges ahead of him in his service to his community, state and country.

The native of Roseville, California, joined his teammates aboard a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at Folsom Lake in Sacramento on April 2 to conduct a training exercise with a Bambi bucket. The bucket allows a helicopter and its crew to be critical assets in fighting the wildfires that rage across the dry brush and forests of California summer after summer.

High winds and the added weight of the bucket filled with hundreds of gallons of water make the flight a considerably more difficult and hazardous one than usual. Because of these added challenges, California Guard crews get as much training with Bambi buckets as they possibly can before the start of the wildfire season each year.

Sullivan and the other Soldiers in Task Force Medevac are no strangers to intense training. The task force provides medical and airlift capabilities that could prove critical in combat missions overseas, or during emergencies within the continental United States, such as natural disasters. Regardless of the mission, the task force members must be able to work together effectively.

“The medics and the crew chiefs cross train,” Sullivan said. “We have to help each other in the back [of the helicopter].”

Though every Task Force Medevac Soldier needs to be proficient in his assigned tasks, Sullivan quickly distinguished himself as among the best, both at his full-time job as a federal technician and during his drill weekends with the California Guard. His hard work and dedication gained the notice of his supervisors, who offered him a chance to compete to be a battalion Soldier of the Year in February.

Sullivan passed with flying colors. He said the experience of being scrutinized by a board of senior leaders helped him identify areas where he could use improvement.

“There’s a lot of things I didn’t know,” Sullivan said. “But I was confident, which is what they [the board members] were looking for.”

These lessons may prove valuable for Sullivan in the near future, as he is currently going through the highly-competitive process of applying to be a warrant officer. This is a big step in his long-term goal to become a pilot. To be considered as a warrant officer candidate, a Soldier must first spend years building skills in that career field, proving his worth both as an individual worker and as a leader.

Sullivan first enlisted in the Army in 2009 and was stationed with the 3rd Infantry Division in Savannah, Georgia. During his time as an active duty Soldier, Sullivan also served for a year in South Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division. Six months after the end of his enlistment in 2013, Sullivan signed up in the California Guard and joined the ranks of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, a contingent of Task Force Medevac.

“[Sullivan] is a hard worker, and he lives up to the Army values,” said Sgt. David Calderon, another crew chief in Task Force Medevac. “He’s also what we would call a PT stud,” referring to Sullivan’s strength at physical training, or PT, and his consistently high scores in the Army Physical Fitness Test.

With hard work and dedication, the Guard can provide an affordable and fulfilling way to become a licensed pilot. Sullivan plans to apply at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical College to further his education in his chosen craft.

“I wanted to be a pilot as long as I could remember,” Sullivan said. “That’s what I told the recruiter when I first went into the office, and this is how he told me I could do it.”

The California National Guard currently has a critical need for warrant officers, especially in the following MOS fields:

915A – Automotive Maintenance Warrant Officer
255A – Information Services Technician
255N – Network Management Technician

If you are interested in becoming a warrant officer, call Northern California Warrant Officer Strength Manager CW2 Illeya Ringo at 916-862-3034, illeya.c.ringo.mil@mail.mil; or Southern California Warrant Officer Strength Manager CW2 Edward Ortega at 562-936-1767, eduardo.ortega.mil@mail.mil.

This article is listed in :
US California National Guard US Army Aviation
US CAL FIRE State of California
US Sacramento Mather AFB

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