US Military Praises TTDF

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Caption: US Embassy Military Liaison Officer Commander Richard Reyes, left, Delaware National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Emerson, central, and TTDF public affairs officer Lieutenant Sherron Manswell. AZP News/Prior Beharry

By Prior Beharry

AS a Black Hawk helicopter hovered in the air and another lay in the tarmac of the South Terminal of the Piarco International Airport in Trinidad, US military officials praised what they had seen of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF).

On Thursday, the US Embassy in Port of Spain invited the media to view a UH-60 or Black Hawk helicopter, said to be the iconic symbol of American military strength, and used mainly for medical support, search and rescue and personnel transport.

The helicopters and the US military personnel are part of the Delaware National Guard in T&T for a training exercise.

US Embassy Military Liaison Officer, Commander Richard Reyes said this was the 20th anniversary of the State Partnership Program (SPP) between the US State of Delaware and Trinidad and Tobago. The SPP pairs a US state with a foreign country based on specific criteria. This programme began in 1993. There are 100 such partnerships around the world and in 2022, the T&T/Delaware one, won Partnership of the Year.

A Black Hawk in the skies over Piarco. AZP News/Prior Beharry

The US Task Force Commander of the Delaware National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Emerson said they have been training for few weeks with the TTDF and have dozens of soldiers and the three Black Hawks.

He said they shared ideas and built on the relationship they have had for 20 years.

Emerson said, “It was an amazing trip for our soldiers where they were welcomed with open arms.”

He said the training included working with paramedics and the TTDF sharing “their best practices with us.”

Emerson said the day they spent in Cedros earlier this week left a “major impact” on the US soldiers as “our partnership has grown into something much larger and we are proud of that.”

He said the US soldiers consist of flight paramedics, pilots, mechanics, crew chiefs and crew to sustain and maintain our aircraft.

Delaware National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Emerson inside a Black Haw in the tarmac at the South Terminal of the Piarco International Airport. AZP News/Prior Beharry

Emerson said, “We have had a great opportunity to share that knowledge the soldiers. I am impressed with the professionalism of the TTDF and I can’t speak highly enough about them. It’s just been a great experience.”

“Our focus was mainly just to train so we just wanted to share best practices get an opportunity to fly our aircraft in your country which I must say is very beautiful from the air, so that was why we are here to do mainly with training,” he said in front of a Black Hawk on the tarmac and another hovering above the saharan dust-filled sky.

The UH-60 Black Hawk, build by Sikorsky, is a four-blade, twin-engine, medium-lift utility military helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft. One could cost up to US$20 million.

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