4th Battalion (Theater), 123rd Aviation Regiment
4th Battalion, 123rd Aviation Regiment was inactivated in February 2006 as part of the reorganization of aviation assets assigned to US Army Alaska and the formal establishment of Task Force 49. The Battalion had been previously assigned to the provisional command when it was set up in 2005.
4th Battalion, 123rd Aviation Regiment was a theater aviation battalion operating in support of US Army Alaska. As of 2005, the unit consisted of its Headquarters and Headquarters Company, A Company (equipped with UH-60 helicopters), and B Company (equipped with CH-47 helicopters). Company C (Aviation Intermediate Maintenance), 123rd Aviation Regiment and the 68th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) were also attached to the unit.
The soldiers of the Battalion's Headquarters and Headquarters Company supported the rest of the unit on a daily basis in a arctic environment in a wide range of temperatures. The Headquarters and Headquarters Company had the mission to deploy worldwide to provide administrative, logistical, and staff support for the Battalion. As a result of the demanding, multi-faceted mission, it consisted of many different and unique sections: the Command Group; the Company Headquarters; a Motor Pool; the Battalion Communications Section; the Battalion Medics; the Dining Facility; the Safety/HAZMAT Section; the Chaplain; and other staff elements, including the S1, S2, S3, S4, and Aviation Maintenance Sections. The Headquarters and Headquarters Company operated and excelled in the demanding Alaska environment, where temperatures could range from 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to -60 Degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. The Headquarters and Headquarters Company was ready to deploy worldwide to perform its wartime mission in any environment.
A Company was located in Fairbanks, Alaska, as of 2001, with its 15 UH-60 aircraft. The Company was an air assault unit intended to operate throughout the state of Alaska. The Renegade's mission encompassed a vast scope of activity. The unit was capable of completing arctic air assaults, mountain insertions, humanitarian assistance, and drug enforcement missions in the widest scope of weather scenarios possible. In 2000-2001, the Battalion's Company D, which had previously performed this mission, was inactivated, and transitioned into Company A.
B Company provided a heavy lift capability with their CH-47D aircraft. Prior to 1994 when the company was activated, this capability had been provided by elements of 6th Infantry Division (Light). The Sugar Bears and their predecessor units had taken part in many field exercises including Arctic Reach, Brim Frost, Yukon Quest, Manchu Fire, Arctic Strike, Northern Edge, and numerous Joint Readiness Training Center rotations. In training for their wartime mission to be prepared to deploy world wide to provide heavy-Lift helicopter support, the Sugar Bears had hauled hundreds of thousands of troops and tons of cargo in support of tactical training operations and community support missions. B Company had fought millions of acres of burning timber with 1,000-gallon water buckets, performed emergency airlifts of native Alaskan villagers from rising flood waters, and delivered tons of Christmas gifts to remote orphanages.
In addition to their wartime mission, B Company soldiers also performed one of the most unique peace-time missions in the history of Army helicopter lift operations: high altitude rescue operations on Denali (Mount McKinley). At 20,320 feet, it was the highest mountain in North America. In 1971, a Sugar Bear CH-47 rescued 3 dangerously ill Japanese climbers from the 17,800 foot level of Denali. This marked the beginning of what became known as the High Altitude Rescue Team (HART). The Sugar Bear HART held the world altitude record for rescue hoist operations, at 18,200 feet as of the mid-2000s. The HART had also conducted landings at 19,600 feet in support of rescue operations and has many other rescues to its credit. The Sugar Bears resided in Hangar 1 at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. The Company boasted an authorized strength of 239 personnel, 16 CH-47D helicopters, 37 vehicles, and millions of dollars worth of tools and support equipment.
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