2nd Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment
"Wild Cards" / "Above the Best"
The mission of the 2nd Battalion (Assault), 2nd Aviation Regiment, is to, on order, transition to war and conduct air assault and general support aviation operations in support of the 2nd Infantry Division and Combined Forces Command. Prior to the reorganization of the 2nd Infantry Division's Aviation Brigade and the formation of the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade as the sole aviation element to support by the 2nd Infantry Division and the Eighth US Army, 2-2nd Aviation's mission had been the same, except only in support of the 2nd Infantry Division.
At that time, the 2-2nd Aviation had been structured to conduct combat, combat support and combat service support aviation missions in support of 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Its companies established habitual relationships in support of 2nd Brigade's 2 air assault infantry battalions, 1-503rd Infantry and 1-506th Infantry. They also provided combat support to the rest of the aviation brigade, to include 1st Battalion (Attack), 2nd Aviation Regiment and the 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry. Each company positively impacted the conduct of aviation operations in the Korean theater.
As a result of their untiring efforts, much progress into the development of tactics, techniques and procedures in a variety of combat support operations was realized. At that time the 2nd Battalion (Assault), 2nd Aviation Regiment was the most forward deployed Assault Helicopter Battalion in the US Army. The Battalion's bread and butter was the multi-aircraft air assault under night vision goggles. The air assault operation employed firepower and mobility to engage and destroy the enemy.
The workhorse of the Battalion's fleet became the Sikorsky built UH-60 Blackhawk. The UH-60 was a twin turbine engine, single rotor, semimonocoque fuselage, rotary wing helicopter. Its primary mission was tactical transport of troops, supplies and equipment. Standard armament consisted of 2 7.62mm machine guns, one on each side of the forward cabin. Its top airspeed was 193 knots, or 386 kilometers/hour (240 miles/hour). The A model Blackhawk had the capability of carrying an external load of up to 8000 pounds, and could weigh as much as 22,000 pounds fully loaded. The L model, which had improved engines and transmission, wais capable of carrying an external load of up to 9000 pounds, and could weigh up to 23,500 pounds fully loaded. Optional kit installations for the UH-60 consisted of the Extended Range Fuel System (ERFS), infrared suppression, blade de-icing, winterization, static/rappelling kits, or even a mine dispensing system called Volcano. In addition to crew chief and gunner seats, troop seats were installed for up to 13 persons.
The 2nd Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment traces its lineage to Company B, 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. B Company was equipped at the time with OH-23 Raven helicopters and O-1A and U-6A fixed-wing aircraft.
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. Camp Stanley, about 6 kilometers north of Seoul (South Korea's capital), was about 25 kilometers from the Demilitarized Zone.
Night vision goggles were introduced into the crew training program in 1981. In 1984, the UH-60 Blackhawk began its integration into the battalion. 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, B Company, 2nd Aviation was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Aviation, with its organic elements constituted and activated thereafter. Camp Stanley became the Battalion's new home in 1988. Camp Stanley's tenant units at the time included Headquarters, 2nd Division Artillery; Headquarters, 2nd Aviation Brigade; 2-2nd Aviation Regiment; 6-37th Artillery; and 5-5th Air Defense Artillery.
In April of 1998, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Aviation implemented the Aviation Restructuring Initiative (ARI). 2-2nd Aviation was one of the last battalions to transition to a UH-60 pure fleet under the ARI. It previously had 58 assigned aircraft consisting of 4 different airframes: the UH-60A/L, EH-60A, UH-1H and OH-58A+. The restructuring resulted in the turn-in of the OH-58's and UH-1's from C Company for UH-60A and EH-60A. The rest of the Battalion turned in the remaining UH-1's, OH-58's, and UH-60A for the UH-60L model helicopter. The unit was subsequently organized with 2 assault helicopter company's, a general support helicopter company, all consisting of UH-60L's, an aviation unit maintenance company, and the headquarters and headquarters company.
In June 2005, the 2nd Infantry Division's Aviation Brigade was inactivated and the 6th Cavalry Brigade was inactivated and reflagged as the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, with elements of the 17th Aviation Brigade, which also was inactivated, being assigned to the new unit. This was 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 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, designated as Multi-Functional Aviation Brigade, assumed the role of providing aviation support to both the 2nd Infantry Division as before, and Eighth US Army, which had previously been handled by 6th Cavalry Brigade and 17th Avaition Brigade. As part of the reorganization, 2-2nd Aviation was moved to K-16 Airfield.
Prior to 2005, the 2-2nd Aviation went to the range on its own. For this training, however, the soldiers worked beside Apache helicopters from 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment and 3rd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment; Blackhawks and Chinook helicopters from 2nd Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment; and air traffic controllers from the 164th Air Traffic Group. About 60 door gunners trained week with 15 to 20 Apache crews. All the units shared a pair of Forward Arming and Refueling Points. Working within the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade meant the fuelers, who previously worked just with Blackhawks, now handled Apaches and Chinooks.
Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment got their first taste of training beside other units from the newly formed Multi-Functional Aviation Brigade at Rodriguez Range, Republic of Korea. The soldiers stayed until 24 July 2005, qualifying gunners to fire from Blackhawk helicopters. The unit also conducted live-fire convoy training and running M9 pistol, Mk 19 Mod 3 grenade launcher and M249 and M16 rifle ranges. It was the unit's first trip to the range since it joined the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade in June 2005.
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