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2-135th Aviation Battalion excels at exceptionally diverse mission

Staff Sgt. Steven Leflar, 2-135th Aviation Battalion crew chief, prepares a UH-60 Black Hawk before a flight July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2-135th Aviation Battalion is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Staff Sgt. Steven Leflar, 2-135th Aviation Battalion crew chief, prepares a UH-60 Black Hawk before a flight July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2-135th Aviation Battalion is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Chief Warrant Officer Craig Wenkheimer, 2-135th Aviation Battalion UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, gives a pre-flight briefing to 1st Lt. David Otero, 2-135th Aviation Battalion UH-60 Black Hawk pilot and Sgt. Barbara Shirley, 2-135th Aviation Battalion crew chief, July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2-135th Aviation Battalion is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Chief Warrant Officer Craig Wenkheimer, 2-135th Aviation Battalion UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, gives a pre-flight briefing to 1st Lt. David Otero, 2-135th Aviation Battalion UH-60 Black Hawk pilot and Sgt. Barbara Shirley, 2-135th Aviation Battalion crew chief, July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2-135th Aviation Battalion is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Chief Warrant Officer Craig Wenkheimer, 2-135th Aviation Battalion UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, goes through pre-flight checks July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2-135th Aviation Battalion is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Chief Warrant Officer Craig Wenkheimer, 2-135th Aviation Battalion UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, goes through pre-flight checks July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2-135th Aviation Battalion is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Sgt. Barbara Shirley, 2-135th Aviation Battalion crew chief, looks over a UH-60 Black Hawk before takeoff July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2-135th Aviation Battalion is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Sgt. Barbara Shirley, 2-135th Aviation Battalion crew chief, looks over a UH-60 Black Hawk before takeoff July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2-135th Aviation Battalion is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Sgt. Barbara Shirley, 2-135th Aviation Battalion crew chief, prepares the hoist before training July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2-135th Aviation Battalion is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Sgt. Barbara Shirley, 2-135th Aviation Battalion crew chief, prepares the hoist before training July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2-135th Aviation Battalion is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Chief Warrant Officer Craig Wenkheimer, 2-135th Aviation Battalion UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, 1st Lt. David Otero, 2-135th Aviation Battalion UH-60 Black Hawk pilot and Sgt. Barbara Shirley, 2-135th Aviation Battalion crew chief, run through pre-flight checks July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2-135th Aviation Battalion is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Chief Warrant Officer Craig Wenkheimer, 2-135th Aviation Battalion UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, 1st Lt. David Otero, 2-135th Aviation Battalion UH-60 Black Hawk pilot and Sgt. Barbara Shirley, 2-135th Aviation Battalion crew chief, run through pre-flight checks July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2-135th Aviation Battalion is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Chief Warrant Officer Craig Wenkheimer, 2-135th Aviation Battalion UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, directs 1st Lt. David Otero, 2-135th Aviation Battalion UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, during an evening training flight July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2-135th Aviation Battalion is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Chief Warrant Officer Craig Wenkheimer, 2-135th Aviation Battalion UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, directs 1st Lt. David Otero, 2-135th Aviation Battalion UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, during an evening training flight July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2-135th Aviation Battalion is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Sgt. Barbara Shirley, 2-135th Aviation Battalion crew chief, performs hoist training July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Sgt. Barbara Shirley, 2-135th Aviation Battalion crew chief, performs hoist training July 29, 2015, on Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. The 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, is part of the Colorado Army National Guard and has a variety of capabilities that make it a valuable resource to both the state of Colorado and the U.S. Army. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The sky begins to take on a pink hue as the sun begins its decent behind the mountains. It's a great evening to fly as pilots from the 2-135th Aviation Battalion make their way out onto the tarmac and into the awaiting UH-60 Black Hawk.

Cutting over the landscape at less than a hundred feet off the ground, the UH-60 Black Hawk spectacularly dips and banks through the air as it follows the contours of the earth while practicing tactical maneuvers. On this particular night, the 2-135th Aviation Battalion practice hoists, which are used during search and rescue missions to lift people in need into the aircraft.        

As a General Support Aviation Battalion, the Colorado Army National Guard Army Aviation Support Facility at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., conducts a variety of missions at home and abroad.

"We have a wide array of missions we do here," said Staff Sgt. Steven J. Leflar, 2-135th Aviation Battalion A Company, crew chief.

While deployed, the 2-135th Aviation Battalion conducts medevac, assault and general support missions. Each company within the battalion has a different role to play while in country. As a member of G Company on his last deployment, Leflar was the crew chief on a UH-60 Black Hawk that was used for medical evacuations.

While in the state of Colorado, the 2-135th Aviation Battalion conducts search and rescue missions, forest fire support missions and military training exercises. They also support interagencies within Colorado (FBI, Sheriff's Department, SWAT Teams) to do counter-drug operations.

"I believe the scope of missions we work on separates us from other units, mainly because the variety and complexity of our mission set," Leflar said. "We work with local authorities and multiple government agencies melding Army doctrine with civilian policy in order to provide a professional, fully integrated response to whatever our customer needs." 

The facility was called upon during the wildfires of 2011-2012 to help control and quell the fires with the use of fire buckets. It was called upon during the floods in 2013-2014 to help support local authorities with search and rescue operations as well. 

The resources the facility provides are vital to the state of Colorado when Mother Nature creates dangerous conditions.

"What I feel separates the 2-135th General Support Aviation Battalion from other units is our environment," said Chief Warrant Officer Craig Wenkheimer, 2-135th Aviation Battalion G Company UH-60 Black Hawk Aero-medical evacuation pilot. "We have a very diverse region to operate. We have the highest mountains in the U.S., and weather that leads to blizzards, floods and wild fires.  The Colorado terrain invites many tourists and outdoor enthusiasts that often get themselves into situations they can't get themselves out of.  Many times, the Colorado Army National Guard is called in to rescue those people where ground or civilian air elements can't."

The Colorado Army National Guard has to be prepared for any scenario that the environment can throw at them. Because of this, in-depth training in a variety of areas is needed.

"Our team members are constantly training and the requirements to keep up with changing technology, and to maintain proficiency and qualification requires Colorado Aviation team members to keep a training workload that far exceeds the typical guard one weekend a month, two weeks a year mindset that most people have about us," Leflar said.  

The Army Aviation Support Facility operates day and night to keep its members current on all the operations they are expected to perform. With such an important mission in state and while deployed, the 2-135th Aviation Battalion is a vital asset to have here at Buckley Air Force Base.
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