Aviators honor fallen pilots during Wall of Heroes ceremony
June 21, 2012
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Leaders, Soldiers and Family Members gathered Friday outside 1st Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment Headquarters on Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield, to remember two pilots who were killed during 10th Combat Aviation Brigade's deployment to Afghanistan last year.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ken White and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brad Gaudet, OH-58 Kiowa pilots flying with Task Force Tigershark, were killed on June 5, 2011, during a combat mission in Khowst Province, Afghanistan. To honor their sacrifice, the unit dedicated a Wall of Heroes memorial to White and Gaudet.
According to Lt. Col. David Kramer, TF Tigershark commander, White and Gaudet received a call just after noon to respond to insurgents planting improvised explosive devices on a key route near Sabari District, an area that had seen many improvised explosive device attacks in the weeks leading up to the mission.
After receiving proper clearance to fire, White, the air mission commander, ordered the pilots in the accompanying Kiowa to engage enemy combatants. White then ordered the other crew to break right so he could better cover them. As White and Gaudet engaged the enemy, their Kiowa impacted the ground, resulting in both aviators' deaths.
A battle damage assessment later confirmed two enemy insurgents killed.
"CW3 White and CW2 Gaudet sacrificed their lives while protecting their team and other coalition forces throughout Khowst Pro-vince," Kramer said. "Their actions resulted in the removal of two insurgents from the battlefield and increased coalition freedom of maneuver in a critical district."
A flyover with UH-60 Black Hawk, AH-64 Apache and OH-58 Kiowa helicopters concluded the dedication. The trail Kiowa broke right and descended out of sight as the aircraft passed over the ceremony.
"Both aviators will always be remembered for their bravery, daring and cavalry spirit in their endeavor to integrate air-to-ground forces," Kramer added. "Let this Wall of Heroes forever remind Soldiers of their dedication to duty and selfless service."
After the ceremony, Soldiers and Family Members walked over to the 1-10 Aviation hangar for a ceremony in which the fallen pilots' names were stenciled onto the inside of the hangar door.
This was also an opportunity for Soldiers who knew the fallen pilots to share memories of them.
After the ceremony, Capt. Charlie Hill, B Company, 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, TF Tigershark, said memorials like this are important so that the memories of unit members who have died can be relayed to new Soldiers who cycle into the unit.
"It's the honorable thing to do," Hill said. "We honor their memory and their lives."
In addition to honoring his fallen comrades, Hill mentioned his concern for the surviving Family Members and his hope that the public won't forget them.
"If people really want to make a difference, make Families the priority," he noted. "Both Families will be moving back into this area within the next few weeks. They need help; we really need to reach out to them and do whatever we can to help out."