News: National Guard Aviation Task Force Soldiers return home to western New York
LATHAM, N.Y. - More than 250 Soldiers of the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade returned home to their families across the state, including some from Rochester, Olean and Dunkirk this past weekend following demobilization at Fort Hood, Texas.
A second group of about 150 Soldiers return from overseas to begin their own demobilization tasks at Fort Hood tomorrow and Wednesday. They are expected home in New York State over the next two weeks.
The brigade departed New York in September of 2013 and provided aviation support for U.S. military forces deployed in Kuwait.
The 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade is a headquarters element of 120 Soldiers who commanded an aviation task force of about 1,200 active Army and Army National Guard aviation troops during their Kuwait deployment.
The Soldiers had been serving in Kuwait since December.
"The most impressive characteristic of this deployment was the initiative and ingenuity displayed by the Soldiers of this organization," said Col. Albert Ricci, 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade commander in his final published comments to the brigade before redeployment.
"We conducted deck landing operations with Navy and Coast Guard ships, to include embarking on the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier. We executed overwater gunnery, unique helicopter training with Marines and Special Forces refining our techniques and procedures."
"Our Soldiers gained a wealth of experience training and conducting genuine strategic operational missions within the North Arabian Gulf," Ricci said.
New York's aviation task force included 200 members of the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion (ASB), with Soldiers based on Long Island, Rochester, Olean and Dunkirk, N.Y., along with 60 Soldiers from Company A, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation, based in Latham, N.Y., flying ten UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
"I am proud of how each and every 642nd ASB Soldier performed over nine months in Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom," said New York Army National Guard Lt. Col. Jack James, the unit commander. "Our Soldiers did outstanding work for America, often in challenging conditions. As we return to our homes across New York and beyond, I am so grateful to our Soldiers and to their families for their dedication to our country and our Army."
The 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade also led some 400 Soldiers of the Army's 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, an Attack Reconnaissance Battalion based at Fort Hood which flies the AH-64 D Apache "Longbow" attack helicopter.
The brigade also received 400 troops of the 3rd Battalion, 238th General Support Aviation Battalion, a Michigan National Guard aviation unit with some elements from the Delaware National Guard.
t Aviation Brigade
The 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, a component of the Troy-based 42nd Infantry Division, provides command and control for Army Aviation units. The brigade is responsible for elements in 11 states. Components of the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade in New York include the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, based in Ronkonkoma and Latham, and the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion with elements in Ronkonkoma, Rochester, Dunkirk and Olean.
A General Support Aviation Battalion includes UH-60 helicopters configured as Air Ambulances for medical evacuation, UH-60 used in the command and control role to move key personnel around the country, and CH-47 heavy lift helicopters which can move up to 30 troops and large amounts of cargo.
In 2004/2005 the brigade mobilized with the 42nd Infantry Division and deployed to Tikrit, Iraq where it conducted combat missions in four Iraqi provinces with units from the Active Army, the California Army National Guard and the Army Reserve.
The brigade headquarters is based at the New York State Armory in Latham and since returning from Iraq has coordinated aviation efforts in support of emergency responses to Mohawk and Hudson River flooding and Tropical Storms Irene and Lee in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
642nd Aviation Support Battalion
The 642nd Aviation Support Battalion provides provide aviation maintenance and logistical support to Army helicopter units. The battalion has elements at McArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma on Long Island, as well as at armories in Dunkirk and Olean in addition to the headquarters at the Army National Guard flight facility in Rochester.
Formerly known as the 642nd Division Aviation Support Battalion, Soldiers of the 642nd deployed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and served in Iraq as part of the 42nd Infantry Division Aviation Brigade deployment in 2004/05.