LANSING, Mich. –
Spouses of soldiers assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 238th Aviation Regiment General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB) were afforded a unique opportunity to fly in the brigade’s helicopters during a spouse lift event at the Grand Ledge Armory, April 15, 2023.
Spouses received a briefing from U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Lawrence Schloegl, assistant adjutant general, Michigan National Guard, and participated in pre-flight safety training before taking a 30-minute flight around the metropolitan Lansing area aboard UH-60 Black Hawks.
The flight was provided as an expression of gratitude for their support to the brigade and to give them a better understanding of their spouses’ experience as Soldiers in the Michigan Army National Guard.
“It was a once in a lifetime event,” said Lindsay Maldonado, spouse of a 3-238th GSAB service member. “It was so much fun—Honestly, I loved it.”
The flight coincided with a family appreciation day, which provided activities for children of service members and other family members to participate in. Events included static displays of various ground vehicles and aircraft, craft building, a movie room, food truck and an Easter Egg hunt.
“Our unit’s family appreciation day is being included with this event to ensure that everyone understands and appreciates the sacrifices of all family members— to include the children— of all of our Soldiers,” said U.S. Army Maj. Jeremy Briggs, the executive officer for the 3-238th GSAB. “April also happens to be the Month of the Military Child, so we are taking time to celebrate and recognize their amazing strength and resilience.”
Briggs said that the event was unique since it was the first spouse lift the unit had hosted in 30 years. Previously, Army regulations only authorized passenger flights for the spouses of pilots. Regulations have since changed and Briggs said that 3-238th took the opportunity to capitalize on these changes to include all spouses.
Briggs added that the vast amount of time and organization that went into planning the event were invaluable because it would offer spouses an opportunity to witness firsthand what their Soldiers do while away at drill, Annual Training, or on mobilization.
U.S. Army Sgt. Nikki Nestor, a crew chief with the 3-238thGSAB, provided a safety briefing to spouses prior to the flight, and stressed how she believes events like this aren’t just important for recruitment and retention purposes, but an opportunity for Soldiers to showcase their passion for their work.
“I think it’s very important to build relationships with the community and families,” said Nestor. “Outside of them being here and actually seeing what we do, it's really hard for us to explain why this matters to us.”
For spouses like Halee Cusack, the flight was an opportunity to make a direct connection between her husband’s job in military intelligence and how it supports the brigade. Cusack was seated behind the pilots of the aircraft and said she was able to watch the pilots and crew make adjustments during the flight.
“It was cool being able to put together all of the pieces of watching what he does and knowing that it’s affecting what they were doing in the aircraft mid-flight,” said Cusack.
Briggs said that events like this are important for improving the relationship that the Michigan National Guard has with the community.
“I believe that family members deserve more recognition for all of their sacrifices and this is a really good way to not only say it, but show them firsthand so they become more comfortable in their understanding and appreciation for what their Soldier do,” said Briggs. “The fact that we have state and local law enforcement, fire departments, and other first responders coming as well goes a long way in developing the multiple facets of relationships the National Guard requires between Soldiers, families, communities, and organizations we interact or are a part of day in and day out.”