I work in the Operations Section of Task Force 449 and fly an AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter. My normal duties include both traditional administrative work as well as getting the opportunity to get out of the office and fly.
Our Tactical Operations Center (TOC) staff includes a great group of Soldiers, who provide 24 hour coverage including: radio operators, battle managers, airspace surveillance managers, weather forecasters and intelligence officers. These Soldiers continually monitor all aviation operations with some of the best technology in the world.
But my desk job just keeps me going until my next opportunity to fly. I typically fly one of our regularly scheduled missions with our subordinate attack helicopter battalions. This gives me the opportunity to fly with some of the best Soldiers and pilots in the Army. Some of these pilots have flown multiple missions per week for over a year and some have been in Iraq for multiple deployments. These Soldiers/pilots are the best the Army has to offer. In addition to the great people, the aircraft is amazing and seeing Iraq from the air is truly exhilarating.
I have been deployed twice and have been able to fly in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Iraq is not as mountainous and has much less vegetation than Afghanistan. Iraq also has more people and is more developed. Fortunately, today’s Iraq is a lot safer than it was only a year ago. The security environment continues to rapidly improve and the Iraqi people are assuming responsibility for their own security. Most of our missions are reconnaissance and security missions. I have had the opportunity to see a great deal of the country. I have flown over the crossed sabers in Baghdad, the gates of Ishtar, and the ancient city of Babylon, where one of the seven ancient wonders of the world once existed.
One of the reasons I continue to serve are the bonds that I continue building with the many people in which I serve. This “Band of Brothers” includes Soldiers in the TOC; aviators I fly with; and friends I spend time with in the off hours. For example, Chief Warrant Officer Reeves is a pilot, who I have flown with for over 14 years. I work with Lieutenant Judkins, a Battle Captain in the TOC. Jay McKeown is our legal officer and my running partner. The trust and respect that I have for my teammates on this deployment is very typical of many generations of Soldiers.
All this excitement and service does come with sacrifice. In my most difficult times, I only have to remember my great wife who somehow manages a home in Cary with our three children. I am grateful for the love and support at home that I, and all of our Soldiers, continue to receive. I also have a great employer, GlaxoSmithKline, that has provided job security through two deployments and great people to work with.
This deployment has reminded me what a unique and critical role the N.C. National Guard provides our nation. I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve with such great people.
Maj. Jason Weaver and Chief Warrant Officer Calhoun pose in front of an Apache helicopter before their flight in Iraq.
Maj. Jason Weaver, an Apache helicopter pilot with Task Force 449, has been in the N.C. National Guard for more than 18 years.