By Sgt. 1st Class Rick Emert
1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Most 1-year-olds can barely walk, but the 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade has come a long way in its infancy.
The 3-227th "Spearhead" Battalion observed its one-year anniversary April 16. Although the unit's history goes back to the early 1960s, it stood up as part of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade a year ago at Fort Hood, Texas.
The battalion certainly had its share of growing pains in the early months, as Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Amagliani, the battalion's top noncommissioned officer, recounted in remarks at the anniversary observance. The battalion began with about 24 Soldiers – including Amagliani, who was the first Soldier in the new unit – had 10 aircraft assigned with most of those in reset and had three toolboxes for the Soldiers to share. They moved into World War II era buildings that had no furniture.
"Those are just a few examples of what this battalion had to deal with in the early beginnings," said Amagliani, who calls Fort Hood, Texas, home, during his remarks. "The glass is no longer half empty. As for all of our Soldiers, they had only one question on their mind. How are we going to be able to support two (training) rotations with the other battalions and then do our own battalion rotation and deploy to Iraq in less than seven months from activation?"
The Soldiers had the answer to that question within a few short months.
"We accomplished this with the mentality of being able to do more with less," he said. "We had to establish priorities of training that were way out of the box. There were times when just about everybody wanted to say uncle, except for Uncle Sam. However, our Soldiers returned to the driving concept for which I think this battalion is well known – that concept of learning. I believe that this is a winning organization and that it will continue to be long after I'm gone."
The battalion's commander, Lt. Col. Michael Shenk, Carlisle, Pa., admitted he had his doubts about the unit being able to stand up from scratch and deploy to Iraq within six months.
"My heart fills with pride as I look back to those days," Shenk said. "My only regret is not having complete and total confidence in our ability to achieve rightness, deploy in support of the Air Cav. Brigade and 1st Cav. Division in a record six months, and execute our currently assigned mission with such precision and care.
"I'm a believer now. Our glass is quite surely half full."
With the second half of the battalion's first year spent in the skies of Iraq, the Soldiers already have become old friends – and seasoned veterans.
"I'm extremely proud to be a member of a team that assumed those challenges of activating and deploying to combat," Shenk said to his Soldiers and guests gathered at the anniversary observance. "The individual and collective accomplishments of this battalion to date are beyond comprehension.
"You've flown over 10,200 combat flight hours. You've moved over 55,000 passengers; transported over 270,000 pounds of cargo; accomplished 1,700 air mission requests; safely transported the leaders of a sovereign nation, both former and current; pumped nearly 600,000 gallons of fuel; and executed 43 air assaults. You've reenlisted your most deserving Soldiers above established goals, you've maintained your assigned equipment above known standards, and you've complied with the known guidance and my commander's intent."
Amagliani said the battalion's Soldiers still possess the mentality that got them through the battalion's difficult beginning.
"Just look at yourselves now, knowing you are all here in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom defending this great nation of ours – never dropping a mission, doing whatever task is asked of you and then some," Amagliani said. "I will always hold a special place in my heart for the Soldiers in the organization for which I serve. There is no other place that I'd rather be than serving right here with you for this great nation of ours."
This work, Aviation battalion marks one-year anniversary, by Rick Emert, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.