10th Mountain Division air cavalry unit remembers pilots killed in 2009
February 14, 2013
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers of 6th Squadron, 6th Air Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Six Shooters, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, donned their Stetsons for a unit ball Jan. 25 at the Commons at Dillenbeck's Corners. During the event, the cavalry troopers celebrated the life of four aviators who lost their lives four years ago to the day.
The unit lost four OH-58 Kiowa helicopter pilots Jan. 25, 2009, when their two aircraft were gunned down during a reconnaissance mission over Iraq. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Phillip Windorski, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew Kelley, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Tillery and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Benjamin Todd, all assigned to B Troop, 6-6 Cavalry at the time, were remembered and honored during the ball.
Guest speaker was Karin Windorski-Cruz, widow of Windorski. She emphasized the importance of the Family that surrounded her when she lost her husband.
"You see, Family comes in many forms," Windorski-Cruz said. "You have the Family you were born into or adopted by, the Family you create with the partner you choose, or it is the group of men and women that your branch manager says you have to live with for the next three to five years."
Lt. Col. Erick Sweet, Task Force Six Shooters commander, served with the task force in Iraq as a major when the aviators were killed. His Family was very close to Windorski's Family.
"Her message spoke to Soldiers and Families alike," Sweet said. "Her amazing message about the Cavalry Family was fitting tribute to our four fallen heroes who can rest easy at Fiddler's Green knowing we will always take care of our own."
The aviation community is a small community. For the air cavalry, it is even smaller. Many aviators often run into each other many times throughout their military career. Many aviators in the unit today served with Windorski when he was an instructor pilot in flight school at Fort Rucker, Ala.
"It doesn't matter if you wear the uniform or love the Soldier wearing it, we are all part of a Family," Windorski-Cruz said. "First, (there is) the Army Family, then the Aviation Community Family, and finally the 6-6 Family. So, having an event like this is akin to a family reunion."
Windorski-Cruz credits this Aviation Family with helping her and her children cope with the loss of her husband.
"When I lost my husband four years ago tonight, my children and I were beyond broken," she said. "But the care and support of everyone here in 6-6 showed us how truly expansive our Family really was. They were there for us on that cold January morning when we received the devastating news, and our 6-6 Family remains by our sides today, as my children and I continue to pick up the pieces and drive on."
At the end of the formal portion of the Cavalry Ball, a moment of silence was dedicated to the fallen aviators. At the Fallen Soldier table, not one, but four chairs were placed to signify the memory of these brave men.
Sweet ended the formal portion with a quote from George S. Patton Jr. "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."
(Gerohimos serves with 6-6 Air Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Six Shooters.)