Iowa soldiers headed back to school this week. Before they earn a badge of honor, they're being put to the test on the ground and in the air.
“They work you really hard to the point of exhaustion,” says SPC Paul Brack of Davenport.
It takes more than strength to graduate from the U.S. Army’s Air Assault School. Soldiers say the school is where infantry meets aviation. The 10-day course starts on the obstacle course. If they can make it through that, they make it to the next phase
“The class started 240 to 246 and now we're at 153. So there is a huge cut during the first day of Zero Day of Air Assault,” says instructor SGT Lyarnell Harris.
After spending the last two days rappelling off a tower, now comes the real test. The soldiers are rappelling from a Black Hawk helicopter 80 feet off the ground. It's called the "Fast Rope" exercise.
“Some get nervous,” says Harris.
SPC Cody Woiwood of Des Moines isn’t one of them.
“It was a lot more intense, a lot more exciting,” he says.
He jumped until his feet hit the ground a few seconds later.
“First time ever in a helicopter. It was like I said, exciting. My heart’s still racing,” says Woiwood.
“Whether it's peace time or wartime, that they can conduct either a sling load operation or air assault operations or even rappelling out of an aircraft,” says Harris.
Now, only one obstacle stands in their way. A 12 mile rucksack run carrying about 50 pounds on their back.
“I'm ready for it. No biggie,” says Woiwood, “Right after that we graduate so it's basically walking home. That's all it is.”
The soldiers who made it this far will get to wear their Air Assault badge with honor.
Soldiers from Minnesota are participating in the class.