CAMP TAJI, Iraq — When Hurricane Ike hit Texas Sept. 13, 2008, it left the eastern shores of the state battered, bruised and bereft in the immediate aftermath of what was the third most destructive hurricane in U.S. history.
Heeding the call to help those left devastated by the hurricane were the Soldiers of 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, who sent Task Force Lobos, headed by 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, to assist recovery efforts by providing re-supply operations and assessments for other recovery teams.
In recognition of Task Force Lobo's efforts during the recovery process, a ceremony was held, Sept.12, at the Taji theatre, as 49 Soldiers involved with the mission received the Humanitarian Service Medal a year following the hurricane.
Brig. Gen. Frederick Rudesheim, the deputy commanding general of support, 1st Cav. Div., Multi-National Division-Baghdad, awarded the medals and praised the task force for their tireless efforts in aiding the stricken areas.
"I remember this mission and how the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade took it, ran with it and told us how it went up at division," Rudesheim said. "You are a credit to the entire 1st Cavalry Division for your acts."
Dealing with disaster relief was not part of the agenda for the 1st ACB at the time, Rudesheim said, as they were training at the Joint Readiness Training Center in preparation for their upcoming deployment.
"When called, you answered and put in 130 hours in 10 days of flying relief supplies and key personnel movement," Rudesheim said. "It was an awesome job and you made it look easy as you do so many things."
Everyone involved deserved the recognition and Rudesheim said he was proud to pin the medal on them.
"It took a while to come and was a little bit late, but it came," Rudesheim said of the medals being awarded a year after the hurricane. "This great outfit conducted that task with the same quiet professionalism that has taken them on every mission since."
The ceremony pleased Lt. Col. Ralph Litscher, from Half Moon Bay, Calif., commander, 2-227th, 1st ACB, who helped spearhead the task force relief efforts and said the medals were well earned by his team.
"To have the recognition come down on the one year anniversary is pretty special for all the guys," Litscher said. "Not too many heavy lift companies could have a team doing a rotation at JRTC and conducting Ike operations."
Reflecting on the relief efforts, Litscher said the magnitude of the hurricanes destruction was greater than first thought.
"We were all surprised at the devastation on Galveston Island and how there was a clear line of where things were really damaged and where they weren't," Litscher said.
This devastation was also witnessed by Capt. Kevin Consedine, from Harrisburg, Pa., company commander, Company B, 2-227th, who was the air mission commander during the relief efforts and said although demanding; the task force handled the conditions well.
"When you have a team like we had, everything felt very easy and very fluid," Consedine said. "So as far as difficulties and the processes went, this is what these guys have trained to do for a long, long time."
It was a team effort, Consedine said, with the medal ceremony an appropriate way to honor the task force's efforts.
"Anytime your unit is recognized for the achievements that they've done, [it's] always a special day," Consedine said. "It says a lot for these guys considering the spectrum of the mission we had, the scope of it and their ability to do it anywhere under any circumstances."
This work, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade disaster relief warriors earn medals, by Alun Thomas, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.