The plush, green East Plaza and blue skies provided a picture-perfect setting for two Black Hawk helicopters to touch down on Friday.
PC students and members of the local community watched along between Greenville Dining Hall and Belk Hall. Many had their phones out, videoing or taking pictures.
ROTC cadet Lee-Ann Salim, a senior from East Islip, NY, had an even better view. She was one of the Highlander Battalion cadets who flew in the Black Hawk UH-60 choppers.
“I had never been on a helicopter before this,” she said. “This was definitely an amazing day that I will always remember.”
The helicopters were part of an ROTC training exercise that LTC Cesar Rodriguez-Ortiz has been preparing cadets for. Seven members of the Highlander Battalion flew during the event, while eight more provided ground support. Forty-nine ROTC cadets in all, including those from Lander University and Newberry College, took part in the round-robin training.
The Black Hawks arrived at PC from Lander. From here they took flight to Newberry College.
“During the event, we trained on the procedures of getting on and off a UH-60 Black Hawk,” Salim said.
The cadets transported special guests on each mission. PC President Bob Staton and Lander University President Richard Cosentino took part in the exercise, along with Congressman Jeff Duncan and Senator Ronnie Cromer.
The helicopters made the trip to each school three times on Friday. As the choppers landed at each school, ROTC cadets and leadership figures exited. Cadets then performed specific tasks each time. They practiced moving ammunition, moving a casualty, and conducting a re-supply of critical equipment.
The helicopters flew back to McEntire Joint National Guard base, east of Columbia, after landing for the final time on the East Plaza. Air National Guard’s Senior Chief Officer Barney Means and LTC Rodriguez were instrumental in providing the training for the ROTC cadets.