Mississippi based aviation unit cases colors, Connecticut team steps into theater role
July 9, 2008
CAMP ARIFJAN, KuwaitAc"a,!Connecticut's loss is a gain for Mississippi and Illinois.
The National Guard Soldiers of Task Force AVCRAD who served under the colors of the 1108th Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot are on their way home, and the Groton, Connecticut-based 1109th AVCRAD has taken up the mission of executing the Theater Aviation Maintenance Program, supporting both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In a Transfer of Authority ceremony conducted today in the Training and Activity Center here, the 1108th cased its colors, formally signifying mission completion, as the 1109th accepted the TAMP mission to provide National Maintenance Program capability, conduct Supply Support Activity operations, perform limited depot-level maintenance operations and support aviation units in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait with intermediate maintenance capability.
Colonel John F. Wharton, commander, Army Materiel Command-Southwest Asia was the guest speaker for the ceremony which was attended by guests from across Camp Arifjan.
In his remarks, Wharton commented on the nature of AVCRAD units and the role they play in the TAMP arena.
"What makes the 1108th unique is that it is one of only four AVCRAD units in the whole U.S. Army," said Wharton. "Their contributions have impacted operations across the entire theater, from Egypt (to) Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan."
"Whenever there was a requirement in support of our forces, you could always count on them to provide quality and timely maintenance and supply support to ensure mission success," Wharton said.
Formed July 29, 2006, the departing task forces' 180-plus Soldiers came primarily from units in Mississippi and Illinois.
During their rotation in SWA, the 1108th completed more than 10,000 work orders, repairing 1,349 aviation components in theater; resulting in a cost avoidance of more than $107,000,000.
In September, 2007 "Fix Forward" teams were sent to Balad Airbase, Iraq and Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan where they provided direct intermediate and depot-level maintenance support to deployed combat aviation brigade elements in each area of operation, expending more than 13,000 man-hours repairing aviation assets.
In his remarks, Col. James G. Young, commander, 1108th AVCRAD started by commending the other unit that made up the AVCRAD task force - B Co., 935th Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Battalion.
"You have become part of our family, you've become brothers and sisters to us," he said. "We've got friendships that will last a lifetime..."
"...you were half of our force, and you did half the work - at least half the work - and we definitely couldn't have done it without you, and we thank you for stepping up to the plate and being part of our family," Young continued.
He said that one of his primary missions for the rotation was to bring all his Soldiers home safely. Citing a few minor injuries, mostly physical training or athletics related; he said everyone was going home, largely due to aggressive risk management.
"We evaluated every risk, for every job, for every mission to reduce risk to the lowest level possible," Young said. "Sometimes it took a little longer to get the mission done, but we did it with the Soldiers in mind."
Colonel Thomas E. Boland, commander of the 1109th, which deployed here for the first time in 2003-2004, said he and his approximately 150-Soldier unit couldn't have picked a better team to follow than the 1108th.
He then declared his command ready to take on the mission.
"Colonel Wharton, the 1109th AVCRAD is here, and are ready to assume the role of TAMP and perform missions to support the aviation warfighters in theater," Boland said.
In the next few days, as the Connecticut team tackles its role providing theater-level aviation maintenance support, the Soldiers from Illinois and Mississippi will return to their roles on the home front.