Vietnam vet, decorated pilot prepares to wrap up Iraq deployment
April 14, 2010
- Chief Warrant Officer 5 William Halevy serves as an advisor to the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade's commander in southern Iraq at COB Adder
- Halevy has served in the Army for 36 years, has been shot down 3 times, and earned more than 26 Air Medals
It's a heady rAfAsumAfA: war hero, veteran pilot, commercial pilot, safety officer, father, grandfather, husband and - most recently - projects officer: with such an extensive list of credentials to his name, one would expect this Soldier to be incredibly busy.
However, while he stays busy with his job, he never fails to have time for a smile and a friendly greeting to anyone who crosses his path, seemingly the nicest guy you could meet.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 William R. Halevy, who calls Jeffersonton, Va., home, is the Headquarters Company, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, project manager, and finally preparing to redeploy from Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq.
"My primary role is the management of the ongoing construction projects and facilities management for the continued morale and welfare of the troops," he said.
For such an accomplished career brimming with accolades and achievements, it is remarkable that the headwaters of Halevy's military career are rooted in chance.
"I had a full scholarship to play baseball," Halevy said. "I was in the post office one day and saw the [recruiting] poster for Army Aviation ... it said you just need a high school education and a desire to fly. I went from basic training to flight school as a warrant officer candidate."
Since those auspicious beginnings, Halevy has established himself as a beacon of knowledge and respect within the Army. Throughout his 36 years of military service, he has been a member of Reserve and Guard units in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida, holding positions ranging from a civilian emergency medical services pilot and aviation safety officer to his current position as a FORSCOM ARMS inspector.
Halevy actually came to Iraq several months before the 12th CAB arrived, but was asked to stay onboard offer his extensive experience to the staff.
"I was in the process of re-deploying with the 28th CAB - as their [Transition of Authority] to the 12th came a few months early - and my conversations with the safety and standards staff of the 12th made me feel I could stay and lend assistance to a [smaller] staffed organization," he explained. "I had only joined the 28th five months prior to assist with several safety issues, having been requested by the mostly Guard unit, and I was expecting to stay much longer."
Halevy continues his custom of offering quality workmanship and an unending cheerful attitude in his current position with the 12th CAB, planning and supervising various construction projects intended to improve quality of life and facilitate greater capability for all aspects of the task force's mission.
These projects include simple things like modifying or improving the office space within the tactical operations center, to wooden security buildings around the 12th CAB work area, to initiating repairs on the Aircraft Large Area Maintenance shells, to building a new chapel, and more.
He is about to finish his time in Iraq but, true to his work ethic, he has a few things he would like to be able to stick around for if possible.
"I would like to see the chapel through completion and throw the first pitch on the ball field. A day off would be nice but I don't think I will be able to work it in," he said with a wry smile.
Previously, as the Army airfield safety manager for the 28th CAB, Halevy brought a wealth of experience to his role as an advisor to the brigade commander.
A veteran of the Vietnam War, Halevy is also a distinguished helicopter pilot, both militarily and commercially, flying over 6,270 accident-free hours. Still, despite his vast experience and notable success as an aviator, Halevy's focus was centered on safety.
"I did it, I don't miss it," Halevy said, referencing his days as a pilot. "I've moved on, and I [focused] on safety. I came here to help."
There have been some notable differences between the two aviation brigades, he said, but he expressed his admiration for what each brought to the mission.
"I knew many of the 28th CAB personnel having worked at Guard Bureau for four- and-a-half years and then with the FORSCOM ARMS team doing their evaluations for six years," Halevy said.
"I thought the 28th did a commendable job of bringing together units from eleven states and then building their infrastructure, of which I'm still overseeing the developing," he said. "However, the 12th CAB's command and HHC present a greater synergy, having been working together much longer prior to their deployment."
"With my career spanning many years, I have been part of many units and I have learned an organization is only as good as its performers and the leaders they support. The 12th has the best I've seen and now I am one of you," he said.
On a more serious note, Halevy remembers where his career all started and how things could have been back when he was flying over and through jungle canopies in Vietnam.
"I dedicate my continued service to Sgt. Gary Lee Westphal, who died 13 June 1971, while serving as my scout crew chief/gunner when he was hit by an enemy machine gun at close range while we were searching for a reported NVA position north of Quang Tri, Vietnam," Halevy said.
"He kept me alive through months of hostile fire with D Troop, 3rd Squadron, 5th Cavalry, 5th Infantry Division."
Halevy has focused all of that potential into his drive to do the best work he can at any task, and he does it all with one of the best attitudes a person can have who has done so much.
Halevy, who will turn 61 this year, has no plans on slowing down after retirement. While he is looking forward to spending additional time with his wife, children, and grandchildren in the rolling hills of Virginia's Piedmont region, he also plans to devote time to his own hobbies.
"I just don't want to get sedentary after I retire," Halevy chuckled.
(This story was written using portions of a previous unpublished article by Sgt. Brandon T. Metroka of the 28th CAB.)