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July 24, 2012
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- For most Army Aviation deployments, Aviation Brigades spend approximately one year down range, return home, wait the appointed dwell time standard, then redeploy to a different combat zone. This was not the case for one Army National Guard unit, whose year-long deployment has been a wild ride.
Company B, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation Regiment, headquartered in Meridian Miss., currently attached to the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, started operations in Iraq and in the same deployment is finishing operations in Afghanistan.
"We have had a very dynamic deployment," said Maj. Jay Germany, Commander, B/1-111th AVN, originally from Brandon Miss. "We are one of the few helicopter units to do an inter-theater change-over. We were also the last helicopter unit to fly out of Iraq."
During the unit's time in Iraq, they flew approximately 450 missions with more than 3,500 flight hours moving more than two million pounds of cargo. B/1-111th AVN supported the draw down in Iraq by moving personnel and equipment from smaller outposts to main bases.
After departing Iraq, the company transitioned to Kuwait where they received a new set of orders to support the 25th CAB in Afghanistan.
"I did not expect to get deployed to Afghanistan after we deployed to Iraq the same year," said Staff Sgt. Greg Webb, a flight engineer with B/1-111th AVN, a native of Meridian, Miss. "We train for any mission. Transferring from Iraq to Afghanistan was part of our mission."
Some of the daily missions for B/1-111th AVN included sling load operations, cargo and personnel movement of up to 26,000 pounds or 35 passengers at a time, and air assault operations. These missions supported ground force operations throughout Regional Command-South.
"The OH-58D [Kiowa Warrior] and AH-64 [Apache] have provided tremendous support for us," Germany said. "We are more than happy to do the mission whenever duty calls. It is easier for us to do a 10-minute flight over a mountain than a 4-day trip around it."
During the unit's time in Afghanistan, they have surpassed the amount of cargo they moved and flight hours flown in Iraq. Some of the cargo moved includes supplies to Soldiers on the ground.
"It feels good to bring some kind of relief taking the Soldiers on the ground what they need and taking them where they need to go," said Webb.
Germany relayed Webb's feelings.
"We take stuff to people who need it; the necessities to those in the field," said the company commander.