News: TF Reaper assumes aviation responsibilty in RC-North
Story by Staff Sgt. Todd Pouliot
BALKH PROVINCE, Afghanistan—The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade/Task Force Falcon welcomed to its formation the 1st Attack/Reconnaissance Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, of the Missouri National Guard, during a Transfer of Authority ceremony Aug. 14, at Mazar e Sharif Airfield. Additionally, the 1st Attack/Reconnaissance Battalion, 104th Aviation Regiment of the Pennsylvania National Guard were recognized for their achievements during their 9-month Afghanistan tour.
“I’m from Pennsylvania, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a happier group of Pennsylvanians,” said Col. David Francis, 10th CAB/TF Falcon commander, with a smile. “You had an incredible maintenance record, an outstanding ready-to-launch rate and mission success record. Thank you all for your service, for what you’ve done for the people of Afghanistan, for RC-North, and for the 10th CAB.”
“TF Reaper are coming in at a very difficult time; coming in amidst the fighting season and dangerous environmental conditions. The challenges are steep but your leadership is up to the task. You are well-led and ready to fulfill the mission. I am confident in your leaders, aviators, and soldiers.”
More than 300 soldiers from Pennsylvania and about 35 soldiers from 1-285th ARB of the Arizona National Guard deployed as the 1-104th ARB Regt./ TF Shadow Knights in December 2012. Lt. Col John Kovac, 1-104th ARB/TF Iron Warrior commander, thanked the members of his task force for their contributions and service.
“You have excelled at your craft in every section and in every field of service,” Kovac said. “I look forward to continued service with all of you, but your most important task now is to spend time with family and keep safe during your transition.”
Earlier in their deployment, retrograde and consolidation resulted in the relocation of the 1-104th ARB from Forward Operating Base Kunduz to Camp Marmal in Mazar e Sharif. Upon the relocation, then TF Shadow Warriors merged with TF Iron Knights, emerging as the consolidated TF Iron Warriors, headquartered by the 1-104th ARB.
“Together the co-joined Iron Warriors accepted the task of consolidating all U.S. rotary-wing assets in (Regional Command – North) and set the stage for successful combat aviation support to RC-North, the most expansive region in theater,” said Kovac. “This teamwork provided daily airworthy assets and capable aviation aircrews that supported a multitude of coalition formations, both conventional and special operations forces of different nations. To our comrades and coalition partners it has been a pleasure working with you and your teams. The professional dialogue and working together to solve our joint challenges was done so with friendship and in a true joint spirit.”
The ceremony marked the beginning of 1-135th ARB/TF Reaper’s assumption of authority and responsibility providing U.S. rotary-wing support to the RC-East area of operations.
“Today we close out a chapter of success in the lineage of the 1-104th Shadow Warriors and TF Iron Warrior, and begin another for the 1-135th Attack/Reconnaissance Battalion and TF Reaper,” said Lt. Col. James Schreffler, 1-135th ARB/TF Reaper commander. “Lt. Col. Kovac, you and your team have provided us with a solid, cohesive foundation on which to build on in the coming months.”
“TF Reaper provides awesome capability and combat power to RC-North, and our coalition partners. However, we also have an awesome responsibility; to guarantee the proper applications of the rules of engagement, tactical directives, and combat imperatives. By ensuring compliance we will continue to be a combat multiplier and an enabler to RC-North, (ISAF Joint Command), and ISAF towards providing peace, security and stability to the Afghan people.”
The 1-104th ARB traces its lineage to June 1, 1960 when it was organized and federally recognized in the Pennsylvania National Guard at Washington, Pa., as part of the 28th Aviation Company, an element of the 28th Infantry Division, the oldest active division in the U.S. Army.
In 2004, 112 soldiers from the 1-104th ARB completed a 16-month deployment to Kosovo as TF Shadow. In 2005, 65 Soldiers from the unit deployed with the Michigan National Guard and completed a 17-month deployment to Kosovo as TF Talon. Sixty-eight Soldiers deployed to Iraq with the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade from 2009 to 2010.
The 1-135th ARB provided state emergency assistance to the State of Louisiana in the fall of 2005 shortly after hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the state. In 2006, A Company, 1-135th ARB deployed as part of the 1-149th ARB from the Texas National Guard in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Participants of the ceremony dedicated a moment of silence to two aviators who paid the ultimate sacrifice, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew Ruffner and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jarret Yoder, both AH-64 Apache helicopter pilots with TF Iron Warrior, were killed in a helicopter accident while supporting ground troops April 9, 2013.