Secretary of the Army Recognizes New York National Guard Colonel for Accomplishments in Environmental Quality
The Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera recognized Col. Frank Intini, commander of the Army Aviation Support Facility #1 located in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., for enhancing military readiness and aviator qualifications through innovative environmental programs.
The environmental quality award winner was determined by a panel of environmental experts from Army and other non-military organizations, who judged competing individuals on criteria including program management, military readiness and community interaction.
Col. Intini was selected by the judging panel for his leadership ability in enhancing unit readiness and strengthening community relations while promoting the Headquarter's, 42nd Infantry Division Aviation Brigade as stewards of the Long Island, N.Y. coastline and forest environment.
As commander, Intini oversees the maintenance of UH-60 "Blackhawk" and UH-1 "Huey" helicopters at the Aviation Support Facility. As a senior pilot and former brigade commander, he also manages the training and qualifications of the 60 aviators, crews and support personnel assigned to the units stationed at the facility.
Intini added a new twist to fulfilling required mission planning and training in sling load and overflight operations. Although heavy military equipment is traditionally suspended from the belly of a helicopter during sling load training operations, Intini and his crews used 1,500 pound concrete reef balls to complete critical flight training over water.
One hundred of the igloo-shaped objects were dropped into the Great South Bay of Long Island in order to create a 100-yard artificial reef. The submerged balls provide a habitat for blackfish, porgies and sea bass, as well as the game fish which inhabit the area such as striped bass, blue fish and fluke.
In a cooperative effort with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Marine Division, the state's Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and other sponsors, future plans include extending this reef to measure 400-yards with the placement of an additional 900 reef balls.
"In these days of tight budgets, Col. Intini is to be commended for his resourceful approach to combining environmental activities with the Army Guard's helicopter training mission," said Fran McPoland, the White House-appointed federal environmental executive.
Highlighting the colonel's leveraging of resources, the judging panel also noted the commander's work in preparing emergency procedures for possible forest fires such as those which engulfed the 10,000 acre Long Island Pine Barrens State Forest Preserve in 1995. At that time, thousands of pounds of water were airlifted and dropped on threatened forest areas by the National Guard unit.
Today, Intini has joined in a partnership with the state's environmental conservation division and local fire departments to educate state organizations on the Guard's ability to support fire fighting with aerial water bucket use. Fire fighters, DEC staff, state and local employees come together in a classroom setting to create prevention and reaction plans for future forestry emergencies.
"I had no idea the National Guard was capable of this type of support," Ed Jacoby, director of the New York State Emergency Management Office, stated in reference to the 1995 fire management provided by the aviation facility. "Without the support of the National Guard, it is entirely possible that the fires would have continued and devoured a much larger portion of the Pine Barrens area."
In response to further assistance offered toward forestry ecosystem management by the aviation facility, a resolution was adopted by the Central Pine Barrens Commission. Pilots and crew members of the Ronkonkoma-based unit perform external sling load training by removing abandoned vehicles not accessible by other means. To date, 53 vehicles have been removed, each a potential source of contamination to the ecology of the Pine Barrens.
The proposal further allows for pilots and crew to achieve low-level flight and night vision training as they scan Pine Barrens for illegal dumping, all-terrain vehicle operations and other natural resource violations. Reports of these findings to law enforcement agencies have resulted in 75 violation assessments, significantly reducing the number of abandoned vehicles in the Pine Barrens land and aiding in lands management.
In establishing this new training area, Colonel Intini saved the Army National Guard over $100,000.
Each year, the Secretary of the Army environmental awards recognize installation, team or individual efforts in Natural Resources Conservation, Cultural Resources Management, Environmental Quality, Pollution Prevention, Recycling and Environmental Cleanup.
A total of 17 awards - 10 installation, three team and four individual - will be presented this year at a Pentagon ceremony April 26. Each Army award winner will now compete in its respective category for the Secretary of Defense Environmental Security Award, to be presented at a Pentagon ceremony April 27.
USAEC manages the Secretary of the Army Awards Program for the Office
of the Secretary of the Army.