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Army Doctor Earns Top Honors at Air Assault School at Fort Campbell

Image of Army Doctor Earns Top Honors at Air Assault School at Fort Campbell. Army Capt. (Dr.) Gabriel Paris, assigned to Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, was recently named honor graduate at the Sabalauski Air Assault School for earning the top scores on a series of written and performative tests that measure curriculum knowledge and ability. (U.S. Army photo by Maria Christina Yager)

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A pediatrician from Blanchfield Army Community Hospital recently distinguished himself as the class honor graduate at the Sabalauski Air Assault School on Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

On May 2, Capt. Gabriel Paris, who is assigned to the hospital's Young Eagle Medical Home, was among 167 soldiers who in-processed for class 26-22. After the equipment inspection, two-mile run and obstacle course on the first day, 142 soldiers made it to the first phase of training. By graduation May 17, only 100 soldiers remained.

It is a 10-day course that is both physically and academically challenging teaching soldiers the foundations of heliborne operations to include troop transportation, sling loaded cargo and equipment transportation, medical (MEDEVAC) and casualty (CASEVAC) evacuation operations, and air assault operations.

"As you can imagine, my medical background helped me tremendously in quickly learning a large amount of information. I was very interested in the school and set it as one of my professional/military development goals. I wanted to test my physical abilities and get a better grasp of what 'regular' Army is like, since this is my first duty station after residency training," said Paris. According to Paris' leadership, he knocked it out of the park.

Honor graduate is awarded to the student who achieves the highest scores on written and performative tests administered during the three phases of Air Assault School. The tests encompass detailed information on rotary aircraft specifications and capabilities, sling load rigging and inspections, path-finder skills, and air assault missions.

"Soldiers must know the specifications and capabilities of every rotary wing aircraft in service in the Army, and also throughout the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force to enable soldiers to facilitate joint air-ground operations," said Capt. Huy Nguyen, BACH's Medical Company commander, who works closely with his TSAAS counterparts in order to send BACH soldiers through the course.

During the class, soldiers learn the principles and parameters of establishing safe and usable helicopter landing zones. They also learn and are tested in the configuration of sling loads for ground vehicles, equipment, and supplies. Upon completion, graduates are able to certify loads for air movement that enhance a unit's operational reach, freedom of action, and endurance in the execution of unified land operations, explained Nguyen.

"We are fortunate to have regular access to the Sabalauski Air Assault School. We are able to send soldiers to every Air Assault class and we have a high success rate. Over 90% of the soldiers we send graduate; those who do not, often are able to recycle and pass at a later time. This is the first time I can recall BACH having the honor grad. It is quite an accomplishment," said Nguyen.

BACH soldier, Sgt. Sangoh Choi, a behavioral health specialist assigned to the Department of Behavioral Health graduated from Air Assault School nearly two years ago and has put the skills he learned to use.

"During EFMB [Expert Field Medical Badge], there was a task where I had to establish the landing zone for the [helicopter]," said Choi. More recently he used a technique he learned at Air Assault School called the Swiss Seat method while competing in the Regional Health Command-Atlantic Best Leader competition to safely move a casualty from one place to another using a rope.

"Army Medical Department soldiers who graduate from Air Assault School provide capabilities for their commanders. When commanders get a soldier who has the Air Assault Badge on their chest, they know they are getting a highly skilled and motivated soldier who will be a force multiplier for their unit," said Nguyen.

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