Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Mark Hebert

National Guard takes residents up in whirlybirds


Mark Hebert

Phillips County Extension Agent Marko Manoukian and Malta Public Works Director Jim Truelove aboard a U.S. Army Blackhawk Helicopter last week in Malta as part of a National Guard promotion last week

Business owners, managers and fellow employees from all over Phillips County were invited on a trip up, up and away on two different helicopters as an organization which promotes hiring those who serve the country in the armed forces came to Malta last week.

The Montana Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is a Department of Defense agency which seeks to develop and promote a culture in which all American employers support and value the military service of their employees with ESGR.

Sgt. Wyatt Uphaus, Malta High School graduate from the Class of 2008, joined the Army National Guard nearly 12 years ago and said that he always wanted to serve in the military and joined shortly after high school. Uphaus said that his time in the National Guard has been all positive. He said he extended his service so that he could deploy to Afghanistan in 2012-13 and currently lives in Malta.

"I am fulltime National Guard and my position now is coordinating military funerals across Montana," he said. "I have been doing that for four and a half years."

Uphaus said that employers who hire National Guard and Reserve members should expect good employees when they hire those who have served in the military.

"They are selfless and most have a good work ethic," he said. "They are just looking to do something better for themselves."

As for the helicopter tours on the day, four flights were made, two aboard Blackhawk helicopters (each carrying 12 passengers) and two aboard much larger Chinook helicopters (which carried 60 people on each trip.) The four flights left the Malta Airport and flew east toward Nelson Reservoir and then back to Malta (30-minute round trips.)

Shonna Smith

A U.S. Army Chinook helicopter near Nelson Reservoir.

Passengers included Malta Public School Principals Shawn Bleth and Scott King; Malta Superintendent Kris Kuehn; Malta Public Works Director Jim Truelove; Phillips County Extension Agent Marko Manoukian; Todd's Technology owners Eric and Dara Wilke; Malta Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ann Sautter; Phillips County Sheriff Scott Moran; Montarctica proprietor Travis Rhoads; Phillips County Hospital CEO Ward VanWichen; and Central Avenue Pit Crew's Chris Carnahan.

Carnahan said he had no idea he would be riding aboard a Blackhawk when he awoke that morning, but he was happy with how things played out.

"I think that was awesome," he said. "I have been in a lot of fast vehicles and that ranks right up at the top, that was quite a rush."


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