BOTTOM LINE
Lt. Gen. Jim Pillsbury, deputy commander of the Army Materiel Command, recalls a humorous exchange with a Soldier in Balad, Iraq, that emphasizes the level of commitment and dedication that Soldiers exhibit on the front lines of war. He spoke at the 36th annual Aviation Product Symposium Awards Dinner hosted by the Army Aviation Association of America on Feb 11 in Huntsville, Ala.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Their efforts helped defeat more than 60 improvised explosive devices, transport dozens of critically wounded patients, move thousands of tons of equipment and fly more than 140,000 flight hours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

They are the 760 Soldiers of the 277th Aviation Support Battalion.

During a 2008-09 deployment, these battalion Soldiers performed more than 15,000 aircraft refuel and re-armament missions, completed more than 9,000 aviation maintenance work orders, participated in more than 160 phase maintenance inspections, dispensed more than 2.5 million gallons of fuel, delivered more than 1,000 tons of ammunition to more than seven locations in Iraq, conducted more than 300 mounted patrols with a land-based quick reaction force, and operated the first and third top-rated supply support activities in the U.S. Central Command.
And they did it all in support of the helicopter pilots and crews of the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade.

The 277th Aviation Support Battalion was recognized as the Outstanding Logistics Unit of the Year by the Army Aviation Association of America\'s 36th annual Aviation Product Symposium Awards Dinner on Feb. 11 at the Von Braun Center. The award was accepted on behalf of the battalion by Lt. Col. Albert Stiller and Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick McGuire.

Aca,!A"This award allows each Soldier and their families to see that the aviation community understands and recognizes hard work, dedication and selfless service,Aca,!A? Stiller said. Aca,!A"Thanks for your relentless support.Aca,!A?

That Aca,!A"relentless supportAca,!A? goes both ways, said Lt. Gen. Jim Pillsbury, deputy commander of the Army Materiel Command, who was the eventAca,!a,,cs guest speaker.

Recalling a trip to Balad as the then commander of the Aviation and Missile Command, Pillsbury talked to the AAAA audience of Army civilians and contractors about the Aca,!A"single-mindedness of purposeAca,!A? he has seen among the Soldiers supporting aviation systems in a wartime environment.

During that particular trip, Pillsbury said his convoy drove up to a huge aircraft hangar. Outside the hangar, a Soldier Aca,!" shirtless in 120-degree weather -- was supervising an Apache repair. Pillsbury walked up to the Soldier and asked him what he was doing.

Aca,!A"Sir, IAca,!a,,cm supervising taking the head off this Apache,Aca,!A? the Soldier said, going back to his work.

Aca,!A"Do you know who I am'Aca,!A? Pillsbury recalled asking.

Aca,!A"No,Aca,!A? the Soldier said.

Aca,!A"Do you care who I am'Aca,!A? Pillsbury asked.

Aca,!A"No,Aca,!A? the Soldier answered.

As the exchange was completed and Pillsbury began to go on his way, the SoldierAca,!a,,cs sergeant came up to the group. He told the Soldier that Pillsbury is the general who provides all the supplies and equipment so that maintenance and repairs can be completed on the ArmyAca,!a,,cs fleet of helicopters.

But the Soldier wasnAca,!a,,ct impressed, saying Aca,!A"No, sergeant. ThatAca,!a,,cs your job. I just want to get this head off this Apache.Aca,!A?

With laughter from his audience, Pillsbury changed course, introducing the seriousness of the exchange.

Aca,!A"He had a single-mindedness of purpose. He wanted to get the head off that Apache and get it repaired so that two warrant officers could strap that Apache onto their backs and kill the bad guys,Aca,!A? Pillsbury said.

It is that commitment and dedication from Soldiers as well as from the Army civilians and contractors who support them that makes the Army and its Aviation and Missile Command a formidable force.

Aca,!A"3.7 million hours of combat time. ThatAca,!a,,cs what our combat pilots have flown in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom,Aca,!A? Pillsbury said. Aca,!A"The Aviation and Missile Command has got control of that mission because you know how to do your job so that our Soldiers can strap an Apache on their backs and go out and kill bad guys.Aca,!A?

Eventually, the war will end. But until then, Pillsbury said, Aca,!A"the Aviation and Missile Command is there to support and you do it very well. I couldnAca,!a,,ct be prouder of the Aviation and Missile Command.Aca,!A?

During his comments, Pillsbury also recognized employees from the Program Executive Offices of Aviation, and Missiles and Space for their exceptional service. He thanked local attorney and community leader Joe Ritch for his work as the chairman of the Tennessee Valley BRAC Committee.

Aca,!A"I miss this place almost as much as my wife misses this place,Aca,!A? he said, introducing his wife Becky, and his two adult children and their guests.

During the dinner meeting, AAAA also presented awards to the following Aca,!" VT Group, AAAA Materiel Readiness Award for a contribution by a major contractor; VT Group and Dale Technical Services, AAAA Army Aviation Materiel Readiness Award for contribution by an industry team; and Hontek Corp., AAAA Army Aviation Materiel Readiness Award for contribution by a small business.

Page last updated Mon February 22nd, 2010 at 11:55