By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterApril 25, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 25, 2013) -- Army Aviation celebrated its 30th birthday April 19 with a birthday ball held at The Landing as retired and active Soldiers, Families and Department of Defense civilians celebrated with cake and dancing in their finest attire.
Ball attendees commemorated the historic accomplishments and the extraordinary contributions of the men and women of Army Aviation since its inception as a combat arms branch April 12, 1983.
Gloria Hendricks, retired Army, said she loved the party for the "great company, amazing food and fun atmosphere."
"This is my first ball as a civilian. Everyone is happier tonight and the speeches were as nice as the people. This will definitely not be my last ball," she said.
The many contributions of Army Aviation were recognized during the evening along with the heroic exploits of Army Aviators, which were said to be "truly awe inspiring" by guest speaker Lt. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, commanding general of XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, N.C.
Aviation has a relentless focus on and dedication to honoring a sacred trust with commanders and Soldiers on the ground, and officials thought it would be fitting to have one of those ground commanders speak about what Aviation means to him.
"[While serving in Afghanistan in 2011-2012] I and the heroes I was privileged to serve and lead felt the daily impact of the exemplary service that Army Aviation provides. Aviation helps us maintain a decisive edge in every battlefield," he said.
Allyn said that it was humbling to be asked to come to the Aviation Center of Excellence and celebrate the evening with Aviators.
He added that Aviation has unique capabilities as a highly mobile and integrated member of the combined arms team.
"I guarantee you, if you ask any Soldier who served in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past 11 years, he or she will tell you how valued and empowering the Army Aviation presence is for them on this battlefield," he said. "Whether providing lethal fire, conducting reconnaissance, executing air assault operations, delivering critical resupply or bringing life-saving evacuation to the wounded, [Aviators] remain relentlessly focused on and dedicated to honoring that sacred trust with commanders and Soldiers on the ground."
Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, USAACE and Fort Rucker commanding general and 14th Aviation Branch chief; hosted the event as three former branch chiefs attended the ball as well, including the branch's third chief -- retired Lt. Gen. Ellis D. Parker.
"Here we are celebrating not only 30 years of the [Aviation] Branch, but what Army Aviation has done and continues to do for our Army and our nation since the end of World War II," said Mangum.
Aviation operations maneuver in the most extreme conditions imaginable and in the most demanding of environments since its construction and ground operations do not take that for granted, said Allyn.
"The constant Aviation presence you provide serves as a steady source of courage and reassurance to the troopers on the ground while serving as a constant reminder of coalition presence and our resolve to the enemies of our nation," he said.
Ground operations have asked a lot of Army Aviation in the past 11 years of persistent conflict, according to the commander, adding that Aviation has constantly delivered on time and on target.
"You make a decisive difference and I congratulate you on a job you do like no other nation on the planet. As we wade through this era of uncertainty and transition as an Army, I am certain of one thing: Army Aviation will continue to provide lethal, flexible and unrivaled Aviation support to ground forces anywhere in the world," he said as he toasted the Branch.