News: Task Force Thunder lifts off in RC South
Story by Sgt. Shanika Futrell
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – The only two sister aviation brigades in the Army made history, March 12, as they swapped places during a transfer of authority ceremony here. The 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Destiny, handed over the reins of the aviation mission throughout Regional Command – South to the 159th CAB, TF Thunder – both brigades fall belong to the 101st Airborne Division, which is the only division in the Army with two aviation brigades.
Col. Bill Gayler cased his unit’s colors for their safe transport back to Fort Campbell, Ky., after which Col. Todd Royar uncased his brigade’s colors for the first time since Jan. 25 when they were covered at Fort Campbell.
Maj. Gen. James L. Terry, commanding general, Regional Command-South, sent-off the 101st CAB and welcomed the 159th CAB.
“Colonel Gayler, you and your Soldiers are indeed the ‘Wings of Destiny.’ Your performance here at Regional Command-South was nothing short of brilliant,” he said. “The fact is that your brothers on the ground fight harder because you have been there for them. Your missions were broad and varied, accomplishing air assaults, air attacks, MEDEVAC and sustainment. You have done a superb job in balancing resources and exceeding the standards in performing each of these critical functions.
“Colonel Royar and Task Force Thunder, like your brothers and sisters in Destiny, Task Force Thunder has served notably and repeatedly in Afghanistan and Iraq. We value your experience. You will carry Destiny’s mission forward in a difficult fight.”
Gayler thanked his unit, 101st CAB, for a successful time in theater.
“It has been a great honor to serve alongside all of you in working to defeat this insurgency while improving the ability of the Afghan people to live and work in a better place. You have posted another chapter in your long and proud lineage. You and your families have answered the call of duty again, and I am very proud of you. You have accomplished every task before you with vigor and discipline, but the full measure of your efforts are certainly best described by those you support.
“Col. Todd Royar, Command Sgt. Maj. (Eric) Thom and the Soldiers of the great Task Force Thunder, we wish you nothing but the absolute best,” he said. “We know that you are prepared and eager to get at this mission, as you have been since the day you stepped foot on this terrain. There is no brigade I’d rather transfer this mission to than you. We’ll be watching you very closely over the next year to see that you to take it to the next level, and we know that you will. Best of luck to you.”
Royar acknowledged TF Destiny and their accomplishments.
“Aircraft are flying and we are doing the mission, but it is day to honor what TF Destiny, Bill Gaylor and his team, have accomplished - not only their service, but their sacrifices and their success,” he said. “You have set the bench mark for aviation standards across the Army and certainly here in Regional Command-South. We have big shoes to fill, but we are up to the challenge. Now it is time for you and your entire team to go ahead and take a well deserved rest, God speed to you and your formation as you get back to Fort Campbell and spend time with family friends and loved ones.”
Royar ended the ceremony by speaking out to the brigade combat teams on the ground.
“Know that Task Force Thunder has the same philosophy as TF Destiny. We are here to make you successful. It is not about us; it’s about your success on the ground, and we will do everything possible to ensure your success every day of the week.”