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NEWS | May 4, 2017

Sandston-based aviation units return to Va. from federal duty

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Virginia National Guard Soldiers serving in two Sandston-based aviation units returned to Virginia in late April and early May 2017 after serving on federal active duty since June 2016. Approximately 40 Soldiers each assigned to Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, and Detachment 2, Company B, 777th Aviation Support Battalion provided rotary wing aviation and aviation maintenance support to the U. S. Central Command area of operations. Soldiers returned to Virginia in small groups to airports closest to their home of record to reunite with their families and loved ones. A more formal recognition for the units will take place in the coming months.

“Command Sergeant Major White and I, and indeed the entire aviation community, could not be prouder of the job our Soldiers did on this deployment,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Hernandez, commander of 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment. “They integrated into another Bn headquarters, deployed, and then performed the mission flawlessly. We thank them and their families for their hard work and sacrifice this past year.”

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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