WIESBADEN, Germany -- The scorching sands of Iraq gave way to the lush green and cool winds of Germany as soldiers from Charlie Company, 501st Military Intelligence Battalion, returned from deployment. The 501st MI spent nearly a year in Ramadi and Al Taqaddum, before returning to Germany shortly after 10 a.m. Sept. 9.<br/><br/>Charlie Company's mission during Operation Iraqi Freedom was to provide support for commanders and ground troops through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.<br/><br/>"Charlie Company provided support to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division," said Col. David R. Hogg, assistant division commander (Support), 1st Armored Division. "They tracked insurgents and monitored the situation on the ground. UAVs are very useful in that type of environment."<br/><br/>The UAV's ability to support and sustain combat operations makes it one of the most requested theater assets, Hogg added.<br/><br/>Charlie Company learned to fly UAVs in Baumholder before deploying. Adjusting to the different terrain in Iraq was one of the bigger challenges Charlie Company faced.<br/><br/>"Flying over a city is really different from flying over a wooded area," said Cpl. James Dreiling, standardization operator. "There is a lot more to see in an urban environment, a lot more static."<br/><br/>Despite the challenges of working in a war zone, especially one as potentially violent as Ramadi, Charlie Company used their UAVs to help commanders and Soldiers and saved countless lives.<br/><br/>"One of our main jobs was to scout ahead of convoys to spot for IEDs," Dreiling said. "One time, one of our guys spotted a 2,000 pound bomb that was set to take out an armor column."<br/><br/>The UAVs piloted by Charlie Company didn't just provide support for U.S. Soldiers, it was a vital asset for Iraqi troops as well.<br/><br/>"There were a few times that we provided direct support to joint operations between the U.S. and Iraqi militaries," Dreiling said. "We also provided security for recruiting stations and polling places on election day."<br/><br/>While in theater, Charlie Company managed to maintain a perfect flight record with their UAVs. Not a single UAV was lost due to pilot error or a maintenance deficiency, said Capt. John Ruckauf, commander, Charlie Company, 501st MI.<br/><br/>"The only UAV we lost was due to a manufactures defect," Dreiling said. "We were well trained and our maintenance crew never let us down."<br/><br/>Dreiling also credits this success to the fact that Charlie Company was the first UAV platoon to be trained as an aviation platoon.<br/><br/>Despite Charlie Company's success in theater, the soldiers were grateful to be back in Germany.<br/><br/>"It is great to be back in Germany where there are good friends, good climate and good beer," Dreiling said.<br/><br/>The 501st MI Battalion will have its official welcome home ceremony Nov. 3 at Wiesbaden Army Airfield.

Page last updated Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 12:45