1st Battalion - 151st Aviation Regiment
1-151 Aviation (Attack) is a South Carolina ARNG aviation unit administratively assigned in peacetime to the 263rd ADA Brigade [some sources claim the 59th Troop Command] of the South Carolina ARNG. Upon mobilization, the unit wartraces and falls under assignment to the 66th Aviation Brigade, Washington ARNG, which is assigned to I Corps. Alternately, depending on the mobilization scenario, the battalion may also WARTRACE to the 18th Aviation Brigade.
South Carolina Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment is a tenant unit at McEntire Air National Guard Base, near Columbia, SC [some sources locate the unit at Eastover, SC]. The South Carolina Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment, is one of seven National Guard AH-64 Apache attack helicopter battalions in the Army and was named the Army Aviation Association's Outstanding Army Guard Aviation Unit in 1996. It's one of three high-priority reserve component Apache units in the Army. The others are in the North Carolina and Florida Guard. The battalion owns 24 Apaches and has operational control of a company of eight Black Hawk helicopters. Its crews routinely train with their active-duty counterparts from the Fort Bragg, N.C.-based 3rd Bn., 229th Avn., a part of XVIII Airborne Corps. And the 1st Bn., 151st Avn., crews wear the airborne patch to signify that association.
One-fourth of the battalion is full-time, composed of Active Guard-Reserve and military technicians, many of whom are pilots and instructor-pilots, Yerrick said. Part-timers work full time in a variety of civilian fields, including aviation. Most soldiers in the battalion have been in the unit for more than 10 years. Not all, however, have flown in combat or contingency operations. To fill in any real-life experience gaps and ensure that the reserve-component Apache crews remain on par with their active-duty counterparts, Readiness Group, Atlanta, part of First U.S. Army, assigned four Reserve Training Detachment soldiers from the active Army to live and work with the battalion. First U.S. Army has active-duty soldiers in 27 states -- as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands -- providing training assistance to reserve-component units to ensure readiness. The RTD assigned to the 1st Bn., 151st Avn., includes a former company commander and instructor pilots recently reassigned from active-component attack helicopter units.
In 1997 the unit deployed to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., to train as it would fight in combat. The battalion would fire 48 missiles, something it does, on average, once a year. But this time Apache crews would launch four missiles almost simultaneously, something they've never done before. The missiles would be fired at about five-second intervals four miles from their targets and would be laser-guided at a range of about 2.5 miles. Because four Apaches would fire their missiles while two others designated the targets, crews would be only minimally exposed to the simulated anti-aircraft threat, as is the ideal situation in combat. Because of the missile's cost -- $35,000 each -- the battalion fired those whose shelf life was expiring.
In August 1999 South Carolina's 151st Aviation Regiment, headquartered in Columbia, was called to active duty to participate in Operation Southern Watch in Kuwait. Along with Guard volunteers from Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Washington, they made up Task Force 151. Operation Southern Watch places American troops in Kuwait as warning to Iraq. The 200-person task force is made of Guardsmen who fly, repair and support Apache helicopters. They spent 180 days in Kuwait to train in the desert, and they will be ready if Iraq attacks Kuwait. The Kuwait deployment was the first for the South Carolina National Guard. The South Carolina Guardsmen arrived June 15 at Fort Stewart. They spent time in the field flying helicopters, took classes and updated their vaccinations. Fort Stewart is a mobilization site for the National Guard units, but none had assembled there since the Gulf War.
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