News: KFOR 17 TF Aviation prepares to head home
Story by Sgt. Samantha Stoffregen
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – After more than nine months deployed, soldiers with Task Force Phalanx, Kosovo Force 17, prepare to head home.
In their final farewell, TF Phalanx transferred authority to TF Warhorse, KFOR 18’s aviation task force, during a ceremony at Camp Bondsteel Jan. 20.
“Today’s transfer of authority ceremony marks the end of a very successful tour for KFOR 17 TF Aviation soldiers and the beginning of what I am confident will also be a successful tour for the newest rotation of our task force aviation,” said U.S. Army Col. David Woods, Multinational Battle Group-East commander and a native of Denbo, Pa.
TF Phalanx had more than 2,000 accident-free flying hours, 567 aviation support missions, 23 medical emergency evacuations that included 27, MNBG-E’s first mountain hoist rescue, and 699 ground missions.
“You came together like pieces of a puzzle, fitting together perfectly and performing an exemplary job and providing us such great service,” Woods said.
KFOR 17’s aviation task force was comprised of 400 coalition partners and four National Guard units from Florida, Indiana, Maryland and Oregon.
“It’s a unique organization by the mere fact that it’s the first time the members of the organization have ever worked together before they met in Texas,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Kerry Dull, the outgoing TF Aviation commander and a native of Johnstown, Pa. “But by National Guard standards, that is business as usual.”
During his speech, Dull took a moment to highlight the soldiers that make up his task force. He said in the midst of his formation, there is a doctor with his own practice, a law student from George Washington University, an engineer that works at Rolls Royce, an IRS investigator, an electrician, a construction worker, a mechanic, a member of the security service, full time soldiers that serve their states and other professions he did not list.
“The oldest soldier is 57, the youngest 21 and the average age is right around 35,” Dull said. “I highlight this because it’s what’s unique about the National Guard. For most of them serving in uniform is not their full time job. For some of you this is your first deployment, for others it is more than you can count. At the end of the day, you are all part of our great nation’s great history.”
Dull did not take command of the task force until several months into the deployment, but said the soldiers met every challenge that was thrown at them head on.
“To our KFOR teammates: Germany, Poland, Ukraine, France, Morocco, Armenia, Denmark, Italy and Turkey: thank you,” Dull said. “We couldn’t have done it without you. We learned as much from you as we did ourselves.”
To the soldiers of TF Warhorse, Dull offered a warm welcome and one final piece of advice.
“Welcome and good luck,” Dull said. “As I stated to your task force last week: every soldier will be challenged professionally and personally here in Kosovo. Meet them all head on.”