First Team aviation troops tally $1 million in bonuses
In a November reenlistment ceremony at Camp Taji, Iraq, Sgt. Jose Ramirez, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew chief with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, takes the oath of enlistment, administered by Capt. Lee Evans, the commander of Company A. The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade has given away more than $1 million in reenlistment bonuses.

CAMP TAJI, Iraq (Army News Service, Jan. 3, 2007) - Nearly three months into its Iraq deployment, the Cavalry Division's 1st Air Cavalry Brigade is looking like a million bucks.

With just about three months of the yearlong deployment complete, the Warrior Brigade has reenlisted more than 120 Soldiers and given away more than $1 million in reenlistment bonuses since the start of the deployment in October, according to Sgt. 1st Class Melissa McNorton, the brigade's senior career counselor.

"For each Soldier, the max bonus is going to be up to $15,000," McNorton said. "But, not everybody gets $15,000."

The amount a Soldier receives is based the amount of time remaining on the Soldier's contract at the time of reenlistment, the Soldier's rank, and the additional amount of time he or she reenlists for.

Soldiers may also reenlist to stay at their current duty station, move to the duty station of their choice or change jobs, said McNorton.

"A lot of them like where they are, so a lot of them reenlist to stay at Fort Hood, (Texas)" or to stay in the 1st Cavalry Division, McNorton said.

According to McNorton, the unit in the brigade with the most reenlistments so far is the 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, which has had 33 Soldiers, or 34 percent of their goal, reenlist thus far.

The 2-227th's senior noncommissioned officer Command Sgt. Maj. Francisco Melo said many of his Soldiers reenlisted because they like the leadership.

Although it has been a number of years since Melo last reenlisted, he chose to stay in because of the people in the Army.

"The Army's like a family to me," the Santiago, Dominican Republic, native said.

Sgt. Jose Ramirez, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew chief with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, reenlisted last month to give something back to the country. Ramirez was born in Mexico, but he grew up in Paramount, Calif.

"I chose to reenlist because being from another country and coming to the United States, I realize how much this country has done for me and my family. It's given us a better lifestyle, a better way of being, and I just felt indebted to the United States of America," Ramirez said.

Ramirez's family also felt good about his decision to stay in the Army.

"My wife enjoys the military lifestyle," said Ramirez. "She wants me to make it a career and go ahead and retire."

With $1,154,215 given out in reenlistment bonuses as of Dec. 21 and nearly 30 percent of the fiscal year's mission met, the brigade is well on its way to meet this year's retention goal, McNorton said.

She doesn't expect it to be too difficult to meet this fiscal year's mission because new assignment options are opening this month.

"We've had a lot of Soldiers tell us that they're waiting to get movement options (permanent change of station), meaning either overseas or to another stateside assignment," McNorton said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16