By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterSeptember 8, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- After nine months serving in Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, nearly 30 Soldiers returned home to Fort Rucker recently after accomplishing their mission.
The Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 58th Aviation Regiment (Airfield Operations) celebrated their homecoming during a ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum Sept. 6 where the recently deployed air traffic control company's colors were cased and the unit was deactivated.
"Today marks a huge milestone where we close one chapter and begin a new chapter in this unit's history," said Lt. Col. Matt Ashburn, 1-58th Avn. Regt. commander. "We welcome home our (ATC) company, who once again answered the nation's call."
During its deployment, the company enabled flight operations in four different European countries: Germany, Latvia, Romania and Poland.
Their mission in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve was to help maintain the strength and presence on the European continent and to help ensure the safety of Task Force 3-227 aircrews and partner nation aircrews in the region.
"The task of air traffic control is one of the most complex aspects of Aviation, and this complexity increases exponentially when you provide operations for aircraft of partner nations with multiple different languages," said Ashburn.
While deployed, the unit performed split-based operations; provided ground control approach radar and tower support in Latvia; tactical terminal control system support in Illesheim, Germany; and ATC liaison assistance in Romania.
The unit also participated in multiple exercises, including Allied Spirit, Saber Junction, Flaming Sword, Iron Pump Gunnery and two join ATC events in Hohenfels, Germany, excelling in all areas, said Ashburn.
"Even though it's great to reminisce about what they did, what's really important is how they did it," said the battalion commander. "In every incident, the team before you did not just keep the standards, they exceeded them. They consistently earned top honors amongst their first (combat Aviation brigade) teammates, whether in marksmanship, Soldiers skills or just plain leadership.
"Most notably, they culminated their rotation supporting Exercise Anakonda '16 in Poland," he continued, "which is U.S. Army Europe's premier multinational training event that involved over 31,000 participants from 24 partner nations."
CW2 Jason Clark, 1-58th ATC company commander, echoed Ashburn's praise of the unit and said he couldn't be more proud to have had the opportunity to serve with the Soldiers of the 1-58th.
"Even though this was only for a short period of time, I will never forget the experience," he said. "The Soldiers standing before you had a tough mission. And, needless to say, they accomplished each mission without fault."
Clark said with the small number of personnel in rotation, the unit overcame further difficulties by junior leaders stepping up and assuming roles above their pay grade.
"They had to adapt to situations outside their comfort zones and they succeeded with flying colors," he said. "They all worked hard and conducted the mission as true professionals."