FORT BLISS, Texas - 1st Armored Division’s Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) saw its 4th Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment case its colors in a ceremony held at the battalion’s hangar Nov. 21. The “Pistoleros” Attack helicopter battalion is the first from the CAB to deploy since the activation of the unit at Fort Bliss in Sept. 2011.
In keeping with Army tradition, the Battalion cased its colors to represent their movement from Fort Bliss to a new theater of operation: Kuwait.
“The casing ceremony is a chance for the Brigade and Division leadership to see us and see that we are ready prior to our deployment,” said Lt. Col. Christopher M. Barnwell, commander of the 4-501st. “It also symbolizes the end of our training and the start to our deployment.”
Over the past 18 months, the Pistoleros’ training consisted of two live-fire attack helicopter gunneries, support to the Division-wide, combined-arms field training exercise, Network Integration Evaluation (NIE), Raider Strike and overwater training.
“We have a well-trained and disciplined battalion,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Steven D. Odom, command sergeant major of the 4-501st. “Our leaders and Soldiers are prepared for the diverse mission that lies ahead.”
The mission is to provide the Armed Forces Central Command commander with lethal anti-armor, personnel and material capability with the battalion’s Apache AH-64 Longbow helicopters in support of his regional security mission, Operation Spartan Shield.
“We are ready to deploy and put our training to good use,” Barnwell said. “My officers, NCOs and Soldiers are the finest I have served with, I have no doubt we will have a great deployment.”
More than 400 soldiers from 4th Battalion will set out in the coming weeks for what should be a nine-month deployment.
In his send-off to the Battalion, Col. Lonnie G. Hibbard, commander of the Combat Aviation Brigade, said, “This battalion stands ready to complete any mission, at any location, when asked. I am confident there is nothing this team can’t do”