Coast Guard members display various awards, ribbons and badges they have earned throughout their careers upon their chests. From pilot wings to marine safety pins, the insignia worn on a uniform can tell you a lot about a servicemember’s career. One member, though early in his career, has something rare on his Coast Guard uniform – the coveted Army Air Assault Badge.
Seaman Cody Reed, from Air Station Barbers Point, recently graduated from Army Air Assault School, learning the skills to make maximum use of helicopter assets and earning the privilege to wear the badge.
Reed’s path to Air Assault School started when Air Station Barbers Point was awarded a slot to attend the training. After a series of intense tests involving more than 200 members, Reed came out on top. A member of the damage control shop at the air station, he spent the time leading up to Air Assault School preparing for one of the most physically and mentally demanding two weeks of any military training.
Reed arrived as the sole Coast Guardsman at the training alongside 150 Army soldiers and Marines. While the blue of his uniform stood out in a sea of green, it wasn’t difference Reed found in his fellow trainees, but similarities.
“The Army has battle buddies; we have shipmates. They’re soldiers; we’re sailors. But in this course we’re all equals trying to complete a common goal of getting a “GO” on the current task at hand,” said Reed. “Having Army Rangers and helicopter pilots treat me as if I was part of the same team instead of just seeing the different uniform was surprising and a great experience.”
The school is comprised of “Day Zero” and three distinct phases. During Day Zero, participants conduct an inventory of equipment, navigate an obstacle course and perform a physical fitness test.
Trainees then move on to the technical facets of operations during phase one and hands-on training during phase two as students are tested on various sling-loads for aircraft, proper hand and arm signals for ground-guiding aircraft and proper hookup procedures. Trainees then move into phase three, the rappelling instruction block.
Before the rigorous, fast-paced course is complete, students have one more obstacle to tackle – a 12-mile ruck march.
In the end, Reed successfully completed the course and stood proudly alongside soldiers and Marines on graduation day, ready to bring everything he had learned back to his air station.
“The Army so critically emphasizes attention to detail that I’m taking away a keen eye for discrepancies and anything that could result in a [aircraft] casualty. This leads to safer operations aboard Coast Guard assets and helps protect my shipmates,” said Reed.
While the experience was rare, Reed brought home unmatched skills and experience. Familiarizing with U.S. Army helicopter operations – to include landing zone preparation, sling-load operations and aero-medical operations – will be instrumental for joint humanitarian aid or disaster preparedness operations the Coast Guard conducts with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade and the Hawaii Army National Guard.
Reed heads back to Barbers Point “Always Ready,” but with a little “Air Assault!” now in the mix.