Forty-seven paratroopers from E Battery, 3rd Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, took part in national training operations at Fort Irwin, Calif., March 1-27.

Soldiers from 1st platoon joined nearly 3,500 Soldiers from 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, at the National Training Center, known as NTC, to conduct the first decisive action force on force rotation in nearly 10 years.

The platoon was under the leadership of 1st Lt. Terrance Minor and Sgt. 1st Class John Nelson, Sr.

“The outstanding achievements of the platoon reflected the extensive amount of training and evaluations we underwent over the last four months,” Minor said.

Many of the Soldiers were excited about the opportunity to test their field craft, system employment and engagement skills learned at Fort Bragg. The platoon also conducts quarterly joint operational assessment exercises with 82nd Airborne Division and Avenger gunnery evaluations to remain readily available to deploy at a moment’s notice.

“We were glad to provide air defense support for XVIII Airborne Corps and brigades within the 82nd Airborne Division. Integrating and working with units outside of corps was a fairly easy,” said Capt Anthony Wheeler, unit commander.

“The mission at NTC was an exciting challenge. We learned a lot,” said Sgt. Donald Thomas, Avenger team chief.

The platoon had four critical objectives during the NTC training: Validation of six fire units and two sensor nodes; provide and maintain 100 percent airspace coverage; deny hostile aircraft the ability to affect 3-3 HBCT operations and integrate all assets with the brigade’s Air Defense Airspace Management Cell, or ADAM, to enhance operational readiness.

“There was no doubt in my mind that Minor’s platoon was ready for this mission. They were on stand-by for the global reaction force this past quarter, which requires them to be ready and available to deploy at a moment’s notice to execute their assigned mission. I saw the training rotation as an opportunity to build the Soldiers capabilities and combat power by fully exercising their critical and collective training skills,” said Wheeler.

Throughout the NTC training operations, 3-3 HBCT heavily relied on the ADA platoon’s ability to establish aerial threat deterrence in a timely manner while protecting critical assets.

“The platoon successfully engaged and destroyed numerous hostile platforms. Air defense assets along with ADAM and brigade aviation element mission command countered all threats which directly aided 3-3 HBCT with the achievement of their training objectives,” said Wheeler.

Six paratroopers were recognized as heroes of the battle for their superior performance during the exercise. The Soldiers recognized were Staff Sgt. Victor Alvarado, Sgt. Austin Ryder, Staff Sgt. Shawn Feeley, Pfc. Nichols Nicholas, Spc. Kindel Holeman and Spc. Robert Ressetar. The awardees received an Army Achievement Medal and a unit coin.