News: Raptors ready to soar
Story by Sgt. Christopher Prows
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - The 16th Combat Aviation Brigade cased its colors during a ceremony March 21 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., the final step before its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
The brigade will provide general aviation support to ground forces in Regional Command South during the nine-month deployment. This support includes transportation, combat operations, reconnaissance and troop overwatch.
“Today’s ground force commanders trust our Army aviation formations to be there for them no matter how tough it gets,” said Col. Paul Mele, brigade commander.
During the months leading up to the deployment, the unit conducted various training and mission readiness exercises at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif.; Yakima Training Center, Yakima, Wash.; and High Altitude Mountainous Environment Training in Idaho.
“What we see before us is a group of young men and women who have trained hard over many months,” said Maj. Gen. Terry Ferrell, commanding general, 7th Infantry Division. “We see command teams that have demonstrated leadership traits and qualities that got this formation to where they are today. They are prepared to go forth and do what their nation has asked them to do.”
“The soldiers from JBLM are competent in our tasks and committed to the success of the mission,” added Mele. “They are persons of character ready to serve with strength and honor.”
Mele added his soldiers are Army professionals that are trained, confident and ready to serve their nation and foster the trust between the Army and American public.
“I feel ready to deploy,” said Spc. Timothy Wooden, a Niagara Falls, N.Y., native, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company. “We trained for months on end and I feel confident that we can accomplish our mission. I have deployed to the region and believe we are ready for the challenges that await us.”
Ferrell said soldiers can rest assured the division will do its part to take care of their families; it stands ready to support those left behind so the brigade can focus on the mission.
“I know the unit is trained, and I am confident they are ready to accomplish whatever the leaders forward ask them to do,” said Ferrell. “Know that the team that stays here at JBLM is with you.”