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Released March 4, 2004

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG -- University of Southern Mississippi ROTC students took a ride in one of the U.S. Army's premier operation support aircraft, the Black Hawk helicopter, as part of an orientation session Thursday afternoon at Pride Field on the university's Hattiesburg campus.

Two of the aircraft were flown to Southern Miss for the orientation from the U.S. Army Aviation Facility in Jackson, according to Maj. Gregory Hargett, recruiting operations officer for the Southern Miss Army ROTC.

"We do this (orientation) about once a year," Hargett said. "This provides an opportunity for them (students) to see this kind of equipment up close, which they may be working with after they receive their officer commission (completion of ROTC program)."

Hargett said the two helicopters were twin-engine UH-60 Black Hawks, produced by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. The Black Hawk serves as a general lift utility helicopter for the military for troop transportation, among other uses, with the ability to carry about a dozen troops in addition to the pilot and crew.

"It's very critical to military operations," Hargett said. "It can get to places where vehicles usually can't go."

The Black Hawk is also used for division-level transportation, Hargett said.

Karensa Polk, a Southern Miss senior and ROTC cadet from the Altair community in Wayne County, said Thursday's session flying in the Black Hawk was a good introduction to the aircraft, especially for those ROTC students participating this summer in the ROTC's LDAC (Leader Development and Assessment Course). The LDAC provides students an opportunity to learn more about the military's aircraft.

"This gives them (students taking the LDAC) a chance to view the helicopter before taking the course so they can see how it operates," Polk said.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM