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NEWS | July 20, 2017

Aviation troops recognized for overseas service

By Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to two Sandston-based aviation units received the Governor’s National Service Medal July 16, 2017, in Richmond, Virginia. The medal, created in 2005 by then-Governor Mark R. Warner, recognizes the men and women of the Virginia Army and Air National Guard who have served on federal active duty since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Approximately 40 Soldiers each assigned to Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment and Detachment 2, Company B, 777th Aviation Support Battalion were recognized for their recently-completed deployment where they provided rotary wing aviation and aviation maintenance in the U.S. Army Central area of operations from June 2016 to the spring of 2017.

Brig. Gen. Paul F. Griffin, Director of the Joint Staff for the Virginia National Guard, presented the medal to the Soldiers, along with the command teams from the two units.

“Welcome home, I know some of you all have been home for weeks and months, but welcome home officially from me and from the Virginia National Guard,” Griffin said. “What you do makes our nation better and what you do makes our state better and thank you for what you do.”

Soldiers from Alpha Company were assigned to 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment, 77th Combat Aviation Brigade to support Operation Inherent Resolve and Combined Joint Force Land Component Command-OIR. These aircrew members flew more than 3,300 combat flight hours and conducted more than 7,000 passenger transports, 300 VIP movements and executed more than 275 aviation mission requests.

The aircrews flew under constant threat of enemy fire, and under a variety of adverse conditions including low illumination, limited visibility and extreme heat. The company conducted combat operations while providing air assault, aerial resupply, quick response force, airborne mission command, medical chase missions, and battlefield circulation mission sets throughout the area of operations. Many missions were performed in conjunction with coalition and local forces.

Soldiers assigned to Detachment 2 deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operations Spartan Shield and Inherent Resolve. While operating primarily out of Camp Buehring, Kuwait, they were responsible for the maintenance of 67 army rotary wing aircraft and 24 unmanned aircraft for the Central Command area of operations.

During their nine-month deployment, they focused on phase maintenance operations, completing a total of 19 phases on UH-60A/L/M, AH64D/E, and CH47F aircraft. Additionally, they provided unscheduled maintenance support for the 77th CAB, 10th Mountain Division, and the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade.

Soldiers in the detachment conducted a variety of tasks including troubleshooting avionics, defensive countermeasures, sheet metal work, battle damage repair, engine overhauls, fixing hydraulic leaks, blade repair and general aircraft maintenance. The detachment provided Soldiers to offload and unfold aircraft arriving to the theater, and learned about port operations. They also sent Soldiers throughout SW Asia to provide aviation maintenance expertise to multinational partners, and teach our host-nation counterparts on proper downed aircraft recovery techniques.

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