• Lieutenant Colonel Tom VonEschenbach, commander, 3/17 Cav., (right), uncases battalion colors with Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Lemke, 3/17 Cav., during a welcome home ceremony at Hunter Army Airfield following the unit's year long deployment to Afghanistan, Nov. 24.

    CAB Returns

    Lieutenant Colonel Tom VonEschenbach, commander, 3/17 Cav., (right), uncases battalion colors with Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Lemke, 3/17 Cav., during a welcome home ceremony at Hunter Army Airfield following the unit's year long deployment to...

  • Four-year-old Cole Vogel gets excited when he spots his father, Capt. Jeremy Vogel, 3/17 Cav., as he enters the 3rd CAB hangar for a Homecoming event, Nov. 24.

    CAB Returns

    Four-year-old Cole Vogel gets excited when he spots his father, Capt. Jeremy Vogel, 3/17 Cav., as he enters the 3rd CAB hangar for a Homecoming event, Nov. 24.

<b>HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga.</b> - Third Combat Aviation Brigade Commander Col. Don Galli was both thankful and relieved to see his group of Soldiers march into the CAB hangar at Hunter Army Airfield on Nov. 24 to the cheers and smiles of waiting Family Members and friends.

"Words don't express how proud I feel," said Col. Galli, as he tearfully began to speak about the 240 Soldiers from the 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, the second to last group of Task Force Falcon Soldiers to return from Afghanistan after a one-year deployment.

"All of our Soldiers are coming home," Col. Galli continued. "That's a blessing but it is also a miracle. In all my years of leadership I've never seen a more tenacious group from start to finish. I'm humbled to be a part of it."

The commander said the brigade was responsible for 72 percent of the enemy killed in action as well as those wounded and captured. They have also performed more than 160,000 flight hours in the toughest environment in their history.

"The Nighthawks [2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment] flew over the widest range of territory in Afghanistan and performed more than 5,000 medevac missions, much of it performed using hoists," he said.

Colonel Galli was also impressed with the skill of Soldiers in 3/17 Calvary.

"They made their own luck," he said. "They had the lowest casualty rate of any aviation group to fly at 10,000 - 14,000 feet while using oxygen."

Charlene Vogel was also proud of the 3/17 Cav., and the contributions of her husband, Capt. Jeremy Vogel, the Charlie company commander. She waited for him in the hangar with her three children, 6-year-old Grant, 4-year-old Cole and 2-year-old Anna. "We got no sleep last night," she said. "My son Grant woke me up every two hours asking if it was time to go."

The Family finally reunited after a brief ceremony to uncase the 3/17 Cav. colors. "It's been a long year," said Charlene Vogel. "I'm so thankful he's finally home."

Page last updated Wed December 1st, 2010 at 18:33