Warriors Bid Farewell to 1-25 Aviation -- Mostly
Camp Taji, Iraq -- The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, bid a fond farewell to 1st Battalion (Attack), 25th Aviation Regiment, during a ceremony on Jan 3.
Originally intended to be a colors casing, the ceremony was modified as a farewell to those Soldiers going home. With elections in Iraq looming on the horizon, more than 100 Soldiers from 1-25th have extended their tour in support of additional security concerns.
Originally arriving in Iraq in January 2004, the Lightning Attack Soldiers spent two months at Baghdad International Airport before becoming some of the first residents of Camp Taji. Over the course of their 10 months here, the camp has undergone an amazing transformation. All the while, the mission of the battalion has stayed the same.
We've flown more than 24,100 hours flown in support of 17 maneuver brigades and three divisions -- 1st Armored, 82nd Airborne and 1st Cavalry, said Capt. Jeffrey McCoy, an administration officer with the 1-25th.
McCoy said the amount of hours the battalion's OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters have flown is a number not seen since the days of the Vietnam War.
"Those 24,100 hours are the culmination of more than 6,000 reconnaissances, security and close combat operations all over Iraq," he said. "We've done a little bit of everything."
Even more impressive, McCoy said, is the battalion's maintenance record during this deployment.
"The Department of the Army standard for fully mission capable aircraft is 75 percent," he said. "Throughout the deployment, we've maintained 83 percent, all while flying at approximately six times the amount we would have flown in garrison."
As Soldiers gathered into company formations, a stiff wind helped to proudly unfurl each company's guidon as commanders called their units to attention and the ceremony began.
Fourth Brigade Commander Col. James McConville approached the podium and addressed the assembled troops.
"We thought today was going to be a casing ceremony, but alas, the Warriors still need you," McConville said. "When I talked to [1-25 Aviation Commander Lt. Col.] Mike Lundy about keeping some of you here with us, he told me that there were so many volunteers to stay that he had to make the hard decision of who among you to send home!"
McConville went on to thank the Soldiers of Lightening Attack for the outstanding service they have provided all of Task Force Baghdad, noting, in what has become the mantra of the 4th BCT, "When we fly, Soldiers don't die."
With McConville closing his remarks, Lt. Col. Michael Lundy offered his heartfelt thoughts.
"I'm taking a chance coming up here to speak with you today having written nothing down in preparation," he said. "I wanted to speak straight from the heart and to try and keep this short. We have had a tremendous experience over the course of our deployment; it has been an honor to be a part of the First Team."
Lundy also thanked the brigades and battalions Lightning Attack has supported throughout Task Force Baghdad and ended by thanking his Soldiers for always being "the vigilant scouts of the air-ground team."
In a gesture rarely seen outside organic Cavalry units, McConville presented Lundy and his entire unit with a certificate officially adding the battalion to the rolls of the Warriors Order of the Golden Spurs.
First Cavalry Division's Commanding General Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli also attended the ceremony. Although not originally scheduled to speak, Chiarelli said the importance of the 1-25th's role in supporting Task Force Baghdad moved him to say a few words.
"I asked my aide on the way up here if I had a speaking role today, and he told me I didn't, "Chiarelli said. "But the role you Soldiers played in this task force cannot be understated. I'm going to bring back a whole lot more Task Force Baghdad Soldiers because of the work you Soldiers do. On behalf of all the brigade, battalion and company commanders who couldn't make it today, I wanted to personally thank you." (Story by Cpl. Benjamin Cossel, 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
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