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    Photo By Staff Sgt. Leticia Samuels | CAMP TAJI MILITARY COMPLEX, Iraq – U.S. Army 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment...... read more read more

    CAMP TAJI MILITARY COMPLEX, Iraq – U.S. Army 1st Battalion, 126 Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion) Commander Lt. Col. Brian Hennessy bestowed his commanding authority to 2nd Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment Commander Lt. Col. Charles Koons during a transfer of authority ceremony Aug. 27, 2018.

    The outgoing unit ceremonially cases its colors signifying the successful completion of a nine-month deployment while the incoming unit unfurls its colors assuming command. This act ignites the start of its mission to enable U.S., Coalition and partner nations to defeat and destroy ISIS in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

    “The feeling is bittersweet,” said Hennessy. “We are able to reflect back upon our accomplishments with pride, and we look forward to going home to our families, but there is a twinge of sadness as we say goodbye to this great team of ours and return back to our many states of origin.”

    The 1-126th GSAB provided various aspects of aviation support to combatant commanders spread across five countries to include medical evacuations, aerial response force, air weapons teams and quick reaction force capabilities.

    “This type of a deployment and being spread out over so many areas with the decentralized command was pretty mind-blowing,” said the 1-126th GSAB Command Sgt. Maj. Nicky Peppe. “The unit before us re-invented the wheel and we turned that wheel into a jet-propelled rocket. We leaped some bounds ahead of them and set the bar really high.”

    The 1-126th GSAB was composed of their original seven National Guard with seven separate companies from California, Oregon, Montana, South Dakota, North Carolina, Delaware and Rhode Island which combined and made the deployment a success.

    “The diversity of the team is what made it all so great,” said Hennessy. “Beyond the superficial differences of the states, patches and unit names, this was a conglomerate of talents that blended and then split multiple times again without ever breaking. It is incredible when you think about how many times and ways we asked these Soldiers to change for the sake of the mission.”

    Because of so many backgrounds working together, the unit faced a few challenges at the beginning of the journey.

    “Our primary goal was to be good for each other and we accomplished that relentlessly,” said Hennessy. “The idea behind that goal is that the working environment directly effects the productivity of the Soldiers. When we are happy and proud of the team that we are a part of, we are more likely to give a little bit extra when the time comes. There is an old motto ‘Mission First, People Always’ that rings true today.”

    Throughout their tenure, the unit flew more than 15,000 hours, transferred four CH-47 Chinooks to support Operation Freedom Sentinel in Afghanistan, moved over 50,000 personnel and 3.5 million pounds of cargo. They also successful completed over 150 medical evacuation missions, launched 85 air weapons teams, and transported 468 distinguished visitors throughout the U.S. Army Central Command’s area of operations.

    “I think these statistics are a symptom of the wonderful disease we had,” said Peppe. “That was to get the job done and bring everyone home safe.”

    Leading up to a unit successfully transitioning into the commanding role, units conduct a transitional phase allowing the outgoing commander and his staff to train the incoming personnel on specific job duties and responsibilities.

    “The most important thing that I highlighted is patience in the process,” said Hennessy. “There are many times when the initial mission analysis is overwhelming and confusing. Understanding that things will change and that the commander has the ability to modify the mission is critical for the incoming commander.”

    The 2-211th GSAB is headquartered in Utah and will be filling the footprint of the 1-126th GSAB.

    “Every aspect of the deployment has been a learning opportunity for everyone involved,” said Hennessy. “It was a special team that made this all the outstanding experience that it was. We are grateful for Task Force Hurricanes and the adjacent battalion level task forces and their support and cooperation throughout the entire two years of this process.”



    Date Taken: 08.27.2018
    Date Posted: 08.30.2018 02:08
    Story ID: 290862
    Location: IQ

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