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66th Aviation Brigade (CBT) (CORPS)

The FORSCOM aviation units are aligned with each of the corps based in the Continental United States. Each corps is organized with a Corps Aviation Brigade in addition to the organic divisional aviation assets. The mix of AC and RC aviation units vary with each brigade.

The I Corps Aviation Brigade, 66th Aviation Brigade, is structured like the other corps. The aviation groups assigned to the brigade are the 185th Avn Group (Lift) and the 211th Avn Group (Attack). Within the groups all battalions are from the ARNG. There are six AC companies within the groups. The groups are composed of 94 percent ARNG and 6 percent AC aviation units. The 66th Aviation Brigade is comprised of the 211th Aviation Group (Attack) in Utah and the 185th Aviation Group (General Support) in Mississippi as well as subordinate units in fifteen states.

The 66th Aviation Brigade of the Washington Army National Guard, is headquartered at Gray Army Airfield, which is located on the base at Fort Lewis. The 66th Aviation Brigade provides transportation support for fighting wildfires. The Ft. Lewis Battle Simulation Center Headquarters is located at Gray Army Airfield. The 66th Aviation Brigade is located on Fort Lewis, near Tacoma. The 66th, together with a collection of other National Guard aviation assets located at Fort Lewis and in Spokane fly a variety of rotary-wing and fixed wing aircraft.

On 18 August 2001, Chief Warrant Officer John Taylor and Chief Warrant Officer Noel Larson from the 66th Aviation Brigade, Washington Army National Guard, flying OH-58 (Apache) helicopters, conducted a search and rescue mission with the Chelan County Sheriff's Office. Their mission was to locate 25 hikers and campers believed to be located within the danger area of the Rex Fire Complex along Lake Chelan. The hikers were spotted in very rugged terrain and were directed out of the area to safety.

Three OH-58 helicopters have been used for search and rescue and reconnaissance throughout the fire danger zones to assist local authorities in protecting lives and property. The 66th Aviation forward headquarters for Task Force Forward, a part of Task Force Falcon, is located at Pangborn Memorial Airport, Wenatchee. Search and rescue is only part of their three-phase mission. The first phase was to set up a base station for CH-47 (Chinook) and UH-60 (Blackhawk) aircraft to conduct fire suppression at the icicle Creek Fires in Leavenworth. The second phase involved providing OH-58 (Kiowa) aircraft assets to various task force commanders and to support search and rescue support to civil authorities. The third, and ongoing phase was to establish a command and control cell for all Washington National Guard aviation operations in support of the fire efforts. This included fire suppression missions at the Virginia Lake fires in Omak. The Blackhawk's carry "Bambi" buckets of approximately 600 gallons of water, and the Chinooks carry Simplex buckets, which hold approximately 2000 gallons. The crews worked feverishly and it wasn't uncommon for them to drop as many as 70 buckets of water a day on the active fires.

Although the air transportation seems to be more glamorous, elements of the 66th Aviation Brigade provided critically needed ground transportation to and from the fires each day. The military drivers and vehicles enabled the firefighters to reach the front lines, over rugged and sometimes treacherous terrain not accessible to the average vehicle. The transportation element is located at the Okanogan Fairgrounds, with 1LT Dan Brewer as the Task Force Commander and Headquarters Liaison Officer. Brewer works to coordinate logistical and operational support for air and ground assets. The support provided by the 66th Aviation Brigade, with both air and ground assets, has become invaluable in the fight against fire - once again proving how important the Washington National Guard has become to the fire fighting effort.

In April 2000 Blood tests confirmed that Robert L. Yates, charged with killing a teenage prostitute, is responsible for at least 12 and possibly up to 18 slayings. Yates left the Army in 1996, after an 18-year career. He joined the Army National Guard as a helicopter pilot with the 66th Aviation Brigade, which trains once a month at the base near Tacoma. As a reservist, he would travel become Spokane and Tacoma one weekend a month, authorities said. While in the Army, Yates was stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y., and Fort Rucker, Ala. The bodies of the 10 linked victims began turning up in November 1997. The majority of the victims were white women with a history of prostitution, drug abuse or both. All were shot to death and dumped in remote locations near well-traveled roads.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:30:55 ZULU