Vice President Al Gore (right) receives unit patches from Army Reserve Sgt. Mike Behrendsen of 6th Battalion/158th Aviation Regiment from Paine Field. Behrendsen was a member of the flight crew that transported Gore and his party during his Vice Presidential visit of Haiti in early October. Behrendsen is from Woodinville. Photo by Sgt. Jim Bourassa.
It has been more than 18 months since President Clinton ordered 20,000 U.S. troops to occupy Haiti. For about four months, 59 Army Reserve citizen-soldiers of Alpha Company, 6th Battalion/158th Aviation Regiment from Paine Field, Wa., have been part of the mission.
The reservists live and work at Camp Canargus, a short distance from the airport at Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital.
The primary mission of the Paine Field helicopter unit is to resupply Army Special Forces outposts located throughout rural Haiti. Dubbed the "milk run," the mission entails the daily transport of mail, fuel, food, equipment, people--almost anything that requires delivery.
When necessary, the unit also shuttles dignitaries to key meetings. For example, the unit flew Vice President Al Gore to meet with Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in mid-October.
The unit employs four Boeing CH-47-D double-rotored medium-lift helicopters to perform their daily mission. The versatile Chinook has the ability to perform a wide variety of tasks.
This detachment is the second group of Army reservists who have served in Haiti. The unit's first representatives arrived in May and returned home soon after the arrival of the second detachment in October. The current detachment is scheduled to stay until the U.N. peacekeeping mission comes to a close.