JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The whipping sounds of rotor blades could be heard and seconds later the choppers appeared over the horizon flying in formation. Traffic stopped on the roads and all eyes looked to the sky as the Apaches made their decent to the runway. After a long trip the helicopters taxied to their new home at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The 1st Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment flew 10 AH-64 Apache helicopters and six UH-60 Black Hawks to Gray Army Airfield, May 11, as part of the “Flying Tigers” move from Fort Hood, Texas, to JBLM.
The trip that covered approximately 2,200 miles and took three days, was filled with gorgeous scenery as the pilots crossed through the Northwest, said Lt. Col. Geoffrey Crawford, commander, 1-229 AR.
The battalion will now call JBLM its home and for the first time in history Apaches will as well.
Over the next couple of months the unit will complete the move from Fort Hood to JBLM bringing with them the rest of its Apaches, Black Hawks and personnel to the base, Crawford said.
Soldiers and residents of the local communities will be able to look in the skies and see the Apaches flying on a more regular basis around the August time frame, Crawford said.
With more aircraft flying over JBLM, surrounding residents may be concerned with additional noise and daily disturbance.
Crawford assuaged these concerns by saying, “The impact to the community should be minimal. We understand that we have a relationship with the community and if we don’t have the support of the community it makes our job harder. So we have to respect that, work with them and build that relationship. That’s a big part of my responsibility to make sure that happens. I owe that to the surrounding community.”
With the addition of the Apache as a resource on JBLM, soldiers can look forward to seeing and training beside the birds during rotations to the Yakima Training Center, Wash., and the National Training Center, Calif.
“We have our own training requirements to prepare our Soldiers for a wartime mission,” said Crawford. “A big part of that process is working with the ground units here and helping them prepare for their wartime missions as well.”
“The Apache brings great capabilities to the fight for the ground commanders. That’s why we exist, to support the ground commanders,” said Crawford. “It gives both reconnaissance and attack capability to work in direct support of ground forces; it has anti-personnel, anti-vehicle and anti-armor capabilities.”
On behalf of his unit Crawford expressed the excitement of the soldiers from the 1-229 AR to make JBLM their home. He looks forward to building a relationship with the community and training side-by-side with JBLM’s soldiers as the “Flying Tigers” integrate into the base.