News: 3-227 celebrates its sixth birthday in Afghanistan
Story by Sgt. Richard Wrigley
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHINDAND, Afghanistan -- Soldiers from 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division celebrated the battalion’s birthday with an organizational day full of fun events and competitions here, April 16.
The day started in the early morning with a battalion run. The run was 3.227 miles, paying homage to the battalion’s identifying number, and was led by Lt. Col. Blake Alexander, a native of San Antonio, and the battalion commander for 3-227th AHB.
Each of the unit’s companies participated in the run with guidons displayed proudly at the head of each company. Soldiers called cadence loudly, demonstrating their motivation and the pride they have in their unit as the unit has had a distinguished history.
The 227th’s history dates back to 1963, when it was originally constituted as Company C, 227th Assault Helicopter Battalion. The first of its kind in the world, the helicopter assault battalion would grow over the span of several months. During the unit’s time in Vietnam, the 227th participated in 13 campaigns, earning numerous awards and citations throughout.
The unit was stood up and subsequently deactivated numerous times over the years due to Army transformation, serving with distinction in many different theaters around the world. In Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990, the 3-227th was credited with pushing further into Iraq than any other unit during a deep attack into Iraqi territory.
On April 16, 2006 the battalion was stood up yet again and has served in its current configuration since, performing operations for two combat tours in Iraq and the combat tour that is now coming to a close in Afghanistan.
Alexander’s history within the unit has given him a unique perspective.
“It’s a significant day for me,” said Alexander. “I was there when the battalion was stood up, I was there for its first birthday in Iraq, and now I’ve had the honor of commanding the battalion for its fifth and now sixth birthday in Afghanistan.”
It should come to no surprise that the battalion’s birthday has often been celebrated during combat tours, as over half the time the battalion has been in its current configuration it has been deployed to either Iraq, or Afghanistan, said Alexander.
Just because the soldiers of the 3-227th battalion know how to conduct combat operations though, it does not mean they don’t know how to have a good time doing it.
Throughout the day the festivities for the birthday celebration were numerous. The companies within the battalion competed against each other in four different tournaments. First was basketball, then volleyball, after which they held a tug-of-war tournament. This was followed by a barbeque, and towards the end of the night the battalion held a spades card game tournament after which they closed the night with a bonfire.
“After being here just shy of a year, and just constantly going at it, constantly working, it’s always good to take a day off and let the Soldiers relax,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Pitkus, a native of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and senior enlisted adviser for the 3-227th AHB, 1st ACB.
Setting a full day aside for the soldiers to be able to enjoy themselves and to stop working is not an easy task considering how fast and demanding the operational tempo has been out here, said Pitkus.
However the intent for the day was not just for the soldiers to have a good time, but to also allow soldiers to reflect on their unit’s storied history and how they have now contributed to it.
“Good units know where they are, and where they’re going,” said Alexander, “but great units know where they’ve come from…that’s what the intent was out here today, to honor those who’ve paved the way before us.”