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SALT LAKE CITY — There are around 7,000 members of the combined Utah Army and Air National Guard. They are citizen soldiers who live among us, and deploy to war zones when they're called. Wednesday, they showed off some of their firearms and helicopter training.
A year ago, the Utah National Guard was called on to help with flooding and over the last decade, the deployments and homecomings have come at a steady pace. They took KSL with them up in a Blackhawk to give an idea of just how well it performs on the battlefield.
"The UH 60 is an awesome aircraft because it can do a lot of different things," said Capt. Jeremy Tannahill with the 2-211 General Support Aviation Batallion. "It's called a utility helicopter for that reason."
It can lift 22,000 pounds and fly as fast as 193 knots, or about 222 mph. In the National Guard, the Blackhawk transports troops, and evacuates the wounded.
Tannahill flew those kinds of missions in Iraq.
"You know we're pretty lucky. Right now, we have the absolute best guys flying our aircraft and doing our missions," Tannahill said.
Right now they have a company in Afghanistan. It's the second tour for many, the third for others.
"That's probably the most enjoyable part of my job is the brothers, and the brotherhood we have and how professional everybody is," Tannahill said.
This is actually the same Blackhawk that Tannahill took into battle. They actually had to patch up a bullet hole. And one of his crew members who was sitting in the door gunner's seat actually took a bullet in the leg during combat.
The Guard has even converted three helicopters for medical evacuations here at home by adding a special hoist.
"One of the great things about that is the capability to recover people from difficult terrain situations," Chief Warrant Officer Evan Ahlborn, a flight instructor 171st Medevac unit.
The cable runs 200 feet and they can hoist 600 pounds. They can