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Idaho Army National Guard to retire Apache helicopters

A missing-man formation of Apache helicopters honors Stien Gearhart at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in November 2014. Gearhart and Jon Hartway, pilots for the Idaho Army National Guard, died when their Apache attack helicopter went down during a training mission near Gowen Field on Nov. 6, 2014.
A missing-man formation of Apache helicopters honors Stien Gearhart at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in November 2014. Gearhart and Jon Hartway, pilots for the Idaho Army National Guard, died when their Apache attack helicopter went down during a training mission near Gowen Field on Nov. 6, 2014. Idaho Statesman

The Idaho Army National Guard will hold a ceremony Thursday morning to bid farewell to its fleet of Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters.

At least six of the two-seat helicopters will take part in the ceremony, which is set for 9 a.m. at Gowen Field, south of the Boise Airport.

Gov. Butch Otter, along with former National Guard unit commanders and current leaders, will attend the event.

The Apaches are expected to fly out of Gowen Field and make a loop around the Idaho Statehouse before heading to a base in Utah, Borders said.

The Idaho National Guard will obtain several additional Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The Black Hawks are more versatile for National Guard operations, said Maj. Chris Borders, because in addition to seating for two crew members they also have a cargo area that can be used to transport injured people and medical personnel.

The Apaches could be used to locate missing hikers and others but could not transport them.

“The Apaches have tremendous attack capability but aren’t nearly as effective in a state emergency response,” Borders said.

For security reasons, Borders would not say exactly how many aircraft there were, but said the Idaho Army National Guard will end up with a total of nearly two dozen Black Hawk helicopters. That includes the existing fleet and new ones that are coming to Gowen Field.

The Army National Guard also has two air ambulances that can be used for medical emergencies.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell

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