BY SP4 ERIC DAUGHERTY
SP4 Reed E. Nichols climbed to a precarious perch atop a water trailer in the middle of the helicopter pad, tensely awaiting the incoming Chinook as it circled and descended. Nichols was about to start his job for the day as a support soldier, tucked away "safely" several thousand meters from the "field." But 20 times during the day he would risk his life for those "field" soldiers for the 198th Inf. Bde.
Down came the 60 foot monster and with it the small hurricane which hurls dirt and gravel at anyone standing nearby. Nichols braced himself for the winds, but when the chopper got close to the ground the air churned so violently he was forced to bend down and grab the trailer to keep his balance.
The Chinook jockeyed back and forth, trying to get within hooking position, narrowly missing Nichols' head with its gigantic wheels. When it finally hovered in a good position he reached out and shoved the hooking apparatus into place.
Jumping from the trailer, he signaled "thumbs up" to the chopper pilot and the craft climbed, the water trailer swinging easily in the air.
"Good hook, Reed," a fellow 5th Bn., 46th Inf. resupply man standing nearby said. "Thanks," the soldier answered, pulling off his goggles and running a dirty hand through his hair a motion caused by habit which made no noticeable difference in his wind blown appearance. "We have to do that about 20 times a day. It gets a little dangerous sometimes, but I like it," Nichols said.
Nichols was a company clerk before volunteering to take charg of the resupply helicopter pad."This work gives me a real sense of accomplishment. I feel I'm really doing something for the men in the field," he said.