Fort Campbell's 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division was named the top Army aviation battalion during a ceremony Jan. 29 at Fort Rucker, Ala.

The 2-17th won in the combat category of the Lt. Gen. Ellis D. Parker Award for its efforts during the 2008 fiscal year.

The award recognizes excellence in aviation units based on achievements in areas of leadership, safety, training and maintenance. The award has been given annually by the Department of the Army since 1993 to commemorate Parker's long association with aviation and his accomplishments in developing the Army's Aviation branch.

Parker, now retired, along with Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III, were scheduled to present the award to Lt. Col. John M. Lynch and Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond E. Gibson, who accepted the award on behalf of the squadron.

"To be the best battalion-sized aviation unit in the army, it means a lot to myself and to the rest of the Squadron and the guys who run the task force," said Lynch earlier this week. "We're just proud to go down there and receive that for everybody and bring it back here to Fort Campbell."
This is the first time 2-17th Cavalry Regiment has won the prestigious award.

The squadron was formed into a multi-functional aviation task force in July 2007 and deployed to Jalalabad, Afghanistan in January 2008, assuming responsibility for all aviation operations in the N2KL (Nangahar, Nuristan, Kunar, Laghman) region.

"The 2-17th wins the Parker Award, that'll be the plaque reads in the future, but really in Afghanistan we were designated multifunction aviation task forces which meant I had helicopters from all the other battalions and Soldiers under my command, and some of my guys were with them," said Lynch. "While it was the headquarters of 2-17th, I had Apaches from 1st battalion. I had Blackhawks from 5th battalion. I had Pathfinders, infantry Soldiers from 5th battalion. I had Chinooks and MEDEVAC aircrafts from 6th battalion, as well as maintenance guys from the 96th ASB. We were really a conglomeration. I think that's why we won it."

The Task Force included 14 Kiowa Warriors, six Apaches, four Chinooks, three MEDEVAC's, six Blackhawks, four Hunter Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, a 20-man Pathfinder Platoon, as well as aviation maintenance and logistic support from the 96th Aviation Support Battalion.
The Task Force logged more than 25,000 flight hours in combat.

The 2-17th has completed two tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the most recent tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. They only recently returned to Fort Campbell, with the transfer of authority on Jan. 6, and the last group arriving back to post on Jan. 11.

Maj. Jeffrey Bouma, 2-17th operations officer, said the award requires a united effort.

"It is important to recognize that this award is for the accomplishments of Task Force Out Front; it was certainly the 2-17 Cavalry Squadron that led the effort in Jalalabad, but it was a combination of all units that formed Task Force Out Front that ensure our success," Bouma said.