Thursday, August 16, 2007

Commando leaders thank aviation battalions

Sgt. Chris McCann
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) PAO
Multi-National Division – Center

CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Aviation units who joined the search for three Soldiers who disappeared May 12 received plaques of recognition and thanks Aug. 13 at Camp Taji, Iraq.
Col. Michael Kershaw, a native of Huffman, Texas, commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., and brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Mahoney presented the tokens of appreciation in a brief ceremony at the 227th Aviation Regiment headquarters building.
“When we hear certain call signs on the radio, we know we’ll be taken care of,” Kershaw said. “Big Guns and Spear are two of those call signs.”
The 3rd and 4th battalions of the 227th, Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, came to the 2nd BCT’s assistance after an attack left five Soldiers dead and three missing.
“When we got hit on May 12, we were hit hard, and it was a rough day. We went after the bad guys, but a thousand infantry guys and 5,000 Iraqi troops can only get around so far on that terrain. It was good to hear your call signs back on the net,” Kershaw said.
The 2nd BCT fell under Multi-National Division – Baghdad and the command of the 1st Cavalry Division from November 2006 through April 2007. In early April, the creation of the Multi-National Division – Center, under the authority of the 3rd Infantry Division, out of Fort Stewart, Ga., moved the 2nd “Commando” BCT under the 3rd Inf. Div.’s control.
While the Commandos worked with Big Guns and Spearhead, however, the relationship was excellent.
“Splitting up the area south of Baghdad was the right thing to do,” said Kershaw. “But it wasn’t the happiest thing in our time here.”
The brigade made history with the Big Guns battalion.
“As a newly formed battalion – we were flagged only six months before we arrived – our first meaningful mission was an air assault with the 2nd BCT Nov.14, 2006. It was the 41st anniversary of the battle in the Ia Drang valley,” said Lt. Col. Michael Shenk, a native of Carlisle, Pa., commander, of 3-227th. Ia Drang, during the Vietnam War – the first use of helicopters in a battalion-sized mission - was one of the 1st Cavalry’s most famous exploits.
“The Commandos gave us a plaque for that one, which hangs on the wall in our tactical operations center, and we’ll proudly hang this one beside it,” Shenk said. “That first air assault defined our worth, and 94 air assaults later, we ended a very lucrative relationship.”

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