1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment
"Gunfighters" / "Strike Deep"
In 2005, the 2nd Infantry Division's Aviation Brigade was inactivated, reorganized and redesignated as the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, which was subsequently reactivated. 6th Cavalry Brigade was inactivated and reflagged as the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade in the process, while 17th Aviation Brigade was inactivated and some of its units reflagged as elements of the new Brigade. Both the 6th Cavalry Brigade and the 17th Aviation Brigade had been organic to Eighth United States Army, and as a result, the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade gained responsibility for aviation support for all of Eighth US Army in addition to the 2nd Infantry Division.
Prior to the transformation, part of both the transformation of the 2nd Infantry Division to the US Army's new modular force structure and the reorganization of US forces in Korea, the 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment's mission was to, on order, transitions to war and perform reconnaissance and security operations to allow 2nd Infantry Division to execute OPLAN 5027. The 1st Battalion consisted of 5 companies: HHC, A, B, C and D. The HHC was the Headquarters and Support company; A, B and C companies were the 3 Apache line companies, while Delta was the Aviation Unit Maintenance Company (AVUM).
The 2nd Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment traces its lineage to Company A, 2nd Aviation Battalion, first constituted in September 1961. During the Korean War, the military application of helicopters achieved recognition through their use in Medical Evacuations (MEDEVAC). Small H-13 and H-23 helicopter detachments transported injured soldiers from areas of fighting to Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) units. Battlefield mortality rates dropped from World War II averages. By November 1951 helicopters had evacuated 8,000 casualties. The 2nd Infantry Division had a detachment that consisted of both rotary and fixed wing assets. When the armistice ended the major fighting in Korea in July of 1953, the aviation sections were pooled together to form a test unit to develop a combat aviation company.
In the summer of 1954, the 2nd Infantry Division was transferred to Fort Lewis, Washington and moved to Alaska 2 years later. At Fort Richardson, Alaska the combat aviation company was consistuted on 20 June 1957. The activation of the 2nd Aviation Company created a unit to provide support to the Division, as well as the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, where the 2nd Infantry Division moved in 1958.
In September 1961 , the 2nd Aviation Company's mission changed from a training role to a combat ready role and the company was expanded into a Battalion, the company becoming Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Aviation Battalion, with the rest of its organic units subsequently activated. The new Battalion consisted of a headquarters detachment and 2 companies. When the 2nd Aviation Company expanded to become Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Aviation Battalion and the rest of the Battalion was stood up, a crest was authorized. It consisted of a teal blue shield with a white mountain peak representing Mount McKinley, Alaska, where the original company was activated in 1957. The wings referred to the aviation function of the battalion. "Excelsus," embossed across a scroll at the bottom of the crest, meant "lofty: elevated in character and spirit."
A test division was created at Fort Benning to develop the battlefield value of air assault. There the 2nd Aviation Battalion acquired its new aircraft, the UH-1 Iroquois. The "Huey" would prove to be the workhorse of the aviation community for decades to come. Once the test division's success proved air assault a worthwhile venture, the Army made plans to disband the test division. Vietnam, altered these plans. and 2 Divisions swapped places, reflagging as each other. The 1st Cavalry Division, then in Korea, was reflagged as the 2nd Infantry Division, while the 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Benning was reflagged as the 1st Cavalry Division. This famous Division deployed to Vietnam, where the airmobile structure was combat tested.
In July 1965, the 2nd Infantry Division returned to Korea. The Division was assigned to take up the area of the Demilitraized Zone (DMZ) to the northwest of Seoul from the junction of the Han and Imjin Rivers to the area called "West Dagmar" 18 miles to the east, an area that included the area around the conference site at Panmumjom. To support the Division, the 2nd Aviation Battalion deployed its Headquarters Detachment and B Company to Stanton Army Airfield by the village of Sinsan-ni and A Company was located at Ascom City (which subsequently became Camp Market) to the east of Seoul. A Company was equipped with CH-21 Shawnee helicopters. By September of 1965, the O-1A's were transferred to the 55th Aviation Company and the 2nd Aviation Battalion became a rotary wing only unit. In October 1969, A Company moved from Ascom City to Stanton Army Airfield. By December 1969, all of the CH-21's were replaced by UH-1B and UH-1D Uroquois helicopters.
The Battalion as a whole supported the 2nd Infantry Division in observation, training and general support, while at the same time remaining combat ready. By 1969 the Battalion turned in its last CH-21's for UH-1 Hueys. In 1971 it saw the addition of OH-58 Kiowas for observation. By early 1971, the 2nd Infantry Division began turning its defensive positions along the DMZ over to the Republic of Korea Army. By March 1971, the 2nd Infantry Division had assumed a new mission as reserve forces of I Corps (ROK/US) Group. Coinciding with the Division's movement off the DMZ and change of mission, were the merger of the 2nd and 7th Infantry Divisions. The 2nd Infantry Division moved into the 7th Infantry Division's area and retained its own designation and colors. The 7th Infantry Division was redeployed back to the United States. Camp Casey, located beside the village of Tongduchon, Korea, became the new home of the Headquarters of the 2nd Infantry Division and many of its subordinate units. Concurrently, the 2nd Aviation Battalion moved from Camp Stanley to Camp Casey.
With the activation of the Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, 2nd Aviation Battalion was relieved from its assignment to the 2nd Infantry Division and reorganized and redesignated as the 2nd Aviation, a parent regiment under the United States Army Regimental System. Subsequently, A Company, 2nd Aviation was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation, with its organic elements constituted and activated thereafter. This unit was organized as an attack helicopter battalion equipped with the AH-1 Cobra helicopter.
On 17 June 1996 the 4th Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment in Korea was reflagged as the 1st Battalion (Attack), 2nd Aviation Regiment, which was subsequently reactivated and joined the 2nd Infantry Division's Aviation Brigade. The transfer of the assets to the 2nd Infantry Division facilitated the replacement of another AH-1 Cobra Attack Battalion and brought the world's premier attack helicopter to the 2nd Infantry Division.
In late 1999, the unit was designated to transition from the AH-64A Apache to the latest and greatest attack helicopter in the world's inventory, the AH-64D Longbow. By May of 2000, all A model Apaches had been shipped for the necessary technical upgrades and a caretaker force was established at Camp Page to maintain the Gunfighter's presence and to support the installation transition that would be necessary to receive the newly-equipped Longbow unit.
The 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment inactivated in Korea in 2000 and activated at Fort Hood, Texas on 5 January 2001 as part of its conversion to the AH-64D Longbow variant. As part of the ceremony, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen A. Ingalls assumed command of the new unit, which had about 300 soldiers assigned to it. The Battalion was initially at Fort Hood as part of the program to train the unit's pilots and crews to conduct successful combat operations with the new AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters. The 6-month training program was conducted by Fort Hood's 21st Cavalry Brigade.
As of April 2001 the 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment was training on the new AH-64D Apache Longbow at Fort Hood, pending deployment to Korea later in the year. The US Army was at the time modernizing its fleet of AH-64A Apaches into next-generation Apache Longbow helicopters, which linked a wide range of avionics, electronics and weapons into one fully integrated weapon system. The Apache Longbow was 28 times more capable than the battle-proven AH-64A Apache, for years considered to be the world's best combat helicopter. When the training was completed in late 2001, the unit deployed to Korea and began operations with the 2nd Infantry Division.
As of early 2001 there were 48 Apaches in South Korea. The third Korea-based unit of 24 craft, 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment returned in late 2001 from the United States with an upgraded version of the attack helicopter. In the Korean theater, the 3 Apache battalions were dedicated to missions critical to the OPLAN: support of 2nd Infantry Division operations (the mission of 1-2nd Aviation), and anti-special operations forces (anti-SOF) and deep attack operations (to be conducted by 1-6th and 3-6th Cavalry). Although the DPRK Scud Belt was within range of Combined Forces Command (CFC) attack helicopters, it was highly unlikely that an attack helicopter battalion would have been dedicated solely to Theater Missile Defense operations due to prioritization. Given the combat power of these attack helicopter units and the criticality of their assigned missions, the likelihood that one of these essential missions would have been replaced by TMD was extremely slim.
Prior to Ulchi-Focus Lens 2003, the AH-64D Apache attack helicopters of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment fired 80 Hellfire anti-tank missiles at an island off the coast of Kunsan, South Korea, on 10 August 2003. The live-fire exercise was the first over water firing for the Battalion since 1997.
As part of the transformation of the 2nd Infantry Division to the US Army's new modular force structure and the reorganization of US forces in Korea, the Eighth US Army formed a Multi-Functional Aviation Brigade (MFAB) on 16 June 2005. The 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, part of the 2nd Infantry Division, took on the role of providing aviation support to both Eighth US Army and the 2nd Infantry Division, replacing both the 6th Cavalry Brigade and 17th Aviation Brigade. The newly consolidated aviation unit included Apache Longbow attack helicopters, UH-60 Blackhawk utility helicopters, CH-47 Chinook medium lift helicopters and managed the Eighth Army's C-12 Huron detachment. 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment became a part of the reorganized Combat Aviation Brigade.
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