WIESBADEN, Germany - All Soldiers who reenlist in the U.S. Army vow to obey the orders of the president of the United States, but not many do it feet from the presidential seal on Air Force One.
Spc. Kurt Sanson, a Black Hawk mechanic with the 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment in Wiesbaden, did exactly that March 20. "It was an awesome experience. It was definitely something I wasn't expecting," he said.
Sanson was able to have such a special reenlistment ceremony because the 1-214th Aviation Regiment of Wiesbaden deployed to Israel in support of President Barack Obama's trip there March 20-22, said Lt. Col. Edwin Brouse, the regiment's commander.
Sanson had planned on reenlisting before the surprise mission, Brouse said, and it worked out that he was able to do it during the deployment.
"It was a great mission and we received wonderful support from USAREUR and Ramstein Air Force Base," Brouse said. "The teamwork was great, and everyone worked together to get us out and get us down there."
The regiment received word of the deployment March 8, and two days later personnel started sending the personnel to Tel Aviv for the mission and coordination with the U.S. Secret Service and the Presidential Marine Helicopter Squadron 1, Brouse said.
Pilots, crew chiefs and mechanics prepared the eight UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade that had recently returned from Afghanistan and were on Ramstein Air Force Base, where personnel folded up the helicopters and put them in C-17 transport planes bound for Israel, Brouse said.
The regiment provided helicopter support for Jay Carney, the president's press secretary, other staff members and press personnel from major news outlets there to cover the events, Brouse said.
During the three-day mission, pilots flew from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, from Jerusalem to Ramallah and from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and then back to Tel Aviv, Brouse said.
Although one member of the regiment caught a photo of Obama on the airfield, no one in the regiment received a chance to meet him, Brouse said.
On the last day, however, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came and took pictures with members of the regiment, Brouse said.
Last year in February the regiment also completed a short-notice deployment to Montenegro on a humanitarian mission, Brouse said.
Brouse, who took command of the regiment in July 2011, said he was glad to have had the opportunity to complete two short-notice deployments so far during his command.
Sanson, a native of California, has been in the Army for seven years and signed up for another three years. He was glad to have an extraordinary reenlistment experience as well as visit Israel for the first time. "It worked out pretty well," he said.