Warrant Officer 2 Dylan Ferguson, Bravo Co 1-82nd Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, Southern Afghanistan

by Daniel Russ on December 21, 2009

I was put in touch with this young Apache pilot and asked him for his permission to write an article about him. He had to apply for permission and received it. In case you’ve had a buttload of Tiger Woods news and want to see what life is like for the men and women who go in harms way, I am featuring his entire letter to me unedited, including photos. It’s a fascinating window on a high achiever in the US Army and his path from Army Reserves to one of the youngest pilots trained in both the Chinook and the Apache. I thought it was telling that he decribed his cushy life as having internet access and bag of jelly beans. Jesus Christ we all have to be thankful for what we have. I mean you might be struggling in this economy but no one is trying to shoot your ass down.

I will pass on any questions you might have for Dylan or well wishes.

That all said, God Bless you Dylan, and Merry Christmas and we cannot wait for you and your wife and two kids to be reunited in peacetime. And please anyone who reads this please send it on to your friends.

Hey man, I went by my Brigade Public Affairs Officer and got the green-light for this. Funny enough they got me thinking by jokingly asking me “Are you interesting enough for someone to blog about you?” I retorted with “It’s all relative, we do this stuff every day. How many Apache pilots does the average person know?” But it did at any rate get me thinking about what makes me special, which quite honestly I think is my age, (however pretty soon even that will be played out). I enlisted into the Army Reserve between my Junior and Senior year of high school as a Combat Medic at the age of 17. I was attached to a Military Police company, and shipped off to Basic Training 7 days after graduation. At the age of 19 while I was attending UNC-Charlotte, I was accepted into Warrant Officer Candidate School for flight training. I celebrated my 20th birthday while I was there. I trained in flying CH-47D Chinooks, submitted my active duty packet, and at the needs of the Army, was sent back to quality in AH-64D Apaches. So by the age of 22 I was a rated pilot in 2 different advanced airframes and I got promoted to Chief Warrant Officer 2. At 23 (my current age, and the youngest pilot in my battalion) I was deployed to Afghanistan.

I also have a wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters. At this rate I think I will have my midlife crisis when I’m about 30! The unit I am in is Bravo Co 1-82nd Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, CAB is deployed to Southern Afghanistan where we perform a wide variety of missions, from security to reconnaissance, med-evac to air-assaults, we do it all. Being a pilot is a lot of hard work. I am getting ready for my annual flight evaluation tonight, a feeling that is reminiscent of cramming for my final exams when I was back in school. The sheer amount of bookwork, academics, and memorization that it takes to be a pilot is what washes out most people. They are extremely tough on us though because helicopters are dangerous enough by themselves, but then toss in some of the most unforgiving terrain and mountains in the world, then add people shooting at you, it can get pretty hairy out there.

To offset some of the stress and to help keep us at an optimum level of readiness we live a “cushy” life compared to many people in the Army, I am sitting with my laptop, with internet, in my climate controlled building, on my bunk-bed, with a bag of Jelly Belly beans I got for Christmas. It’s not a bad trade off. Well dude, that is something to get you started, polish what you want out of there, and I was told I can answer questions you might have, I just can’t violate OPSEC, so feel free to shoot me anything you are wondering, like I said earlier, I do this everyday, so I am often surprised by what people wonder and ask about me and my job.  Take it easy

Dylan

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