Sgt. Ryan Browning was preparing to go on a night flight rehearsal of the 4th of July flyover with his battalion commander, but took a moment to sit and recount how his life as an Army helicopter flight instructor and crew chief has helped touch the lives of others.
“With my second deployment (to Afghanistan), we medically evacuated a small child, and it was a rough mission for all of us,” Browning said. “After a couple days, I went to the hospital to see if the child had pulled through, and the look of joy that the child’s parents had; that their kid was still there, because we got to them … that was one of those moments I realized ‘this is the Army.’ It’s truly fulfilling.”
Looking for something ‘bigger’
Browning, a flight instructor and standards instructor for A Company, 12th Aviation Battalion, said civilian life just wasn’t ‘big’ enough for him, so he enlisted with a desire to be a part of something bigger, and a determination to succeed in aviation.
“He is very mature for his rank and age,” said 1st Sgt. Dennis Frazee. “He’s the senior flight instructor who trains and evaluates crew chiefs on their duties on the aircraft. He’s worked really hard to get where he is, and his future is really bright. He’s put in an extension to stay here and help carry the load while the other two instructors PCS and ETS.”
“I grew up in a few different countries, so I got to see the effect of what Service members would do for other people, and see how they help people in the community, and that was something I wanted to be part of,” Browning said.
He said flight instructors are subject matter experts on every flight system on the aircraft, with an understanding of all mechanical limitations – and said it is quite an experience to know his aircraft is ready.
“There is definitely a pride in my aircraft and in the maintenance team that’s been working on it,” Browning said. “There’s a solid bit of pride there, after I’ve just pushed out a 960-hour (rebuild) and we did it in 14 days, and it’s out there, it’s flying and conducting the mission; it’s taking the fight to them. It’s a great feeling knowing I did that.
“Now, as a flying crew chief, I really enjoy knowing this is my aircraft, and it’s ready to go. I now can teach my guys to do that, and there’s also the pride that my guys are ready, and they’re ready to face whatever situation happens when they’re flying. I’m really prideful of that,” he said.
Browning is happy that he found a way to be part of something bigger.
“On my latest tour, we helped the Afghan Air Force stand on its own two feet, and they’re flying, doing missions and taking over and conducting stuff we used to do for them. They’re becoming an independent and capable air force. Seeing that was a moment of pride for me. ‘I did this.’ We helped them realize their own potential, and that’s all you could ask for as a Service member.”