By By Sgt. Jason Thompson, 4th Inf. Div. PAOJune 30, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas -- The 4th Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade found another reason to celebrate its recent return from a successful year-long deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom - everyone returned home to their families.
The "Iron Eagle" brigade didn't lose one Soldier or aircraft during its deployment to Taji, Iraq, said Col. Patrick Tierney, the brigade's commander.
"We're the first aviation brigade in history to return from combat with zero losses - neither casualties nor aircraft," said Tierney, adding that the accomplishment is even more remarkable as it is often a difficult task to accomplish during peacetime operations.
"It's difficult to put these aircraft in the air for the number of hours that the mission required of them and not have any incidents," added Tierney. "By the time you add in all the environmental conditions we had to overcome - dust, heat, the small area of operations and the enemy forces shooting at us - this really is an amazing achievement for the entire Aviation Branch, not only 4th Infantry Division"
Tierney credited the brigade's success to the leaders at the lowest levels, taking initiative, ensuring everyone's job was completed to standard, and meeting safety requirements.
Tierney, Command Sgt. Maj. Archie Davis Jr., and Iron Eagle Soldiers reunited with their families, friends and community supporters in Fort Hood early June.
"As leaders, we want nothing more than to train the Soldiers under us to be able to perform their job well enough that we can accomplish this feat," said Davis, the brigade's senior enlisted leader. "It is truly remarkable to know that for 12 months in a combat environment every Soldier in this brigade performed to the highest standards, and we were able to bring everyone home. That says a lot for these Soldiers."
Davis added that the workload throughout the entire deployment was nearly triple the operational tempo they'd experienced during garrison or training operations.
"At any given time we had between 65 to 75 percent of our aircraft in operation for the entire year," said Davis. "My hats off to the maintainers as each of the 110 aircraft in our fleet went through a complete strip and rebuild at least once during the deployment, yet we were never unable to meet the demands of the mission due to maintenance delays."
Tierney added that the brigade's success was the result of a full team effort from the maintainers and logistics specialists to the pilots and air traffic controllers and everyone-in-between.
"My mission statement for everyone in the brigade, regardless of (military occupational specialty) was to 'launch aircraft,'" said Tierney. "Between the 5 million gallons of fuel pumped, the thousands of hours flown and the countless hours put in by the maintainers, everything came together throughout the deployment and everyone did their part flawlessly."
Tierney added that the CAB received unprecedented amounts of support from the entire aviation branch which helped his brigade to accomplish their missions without failure.
Though the accomplishment of bringing everyone and everything home from a combat deployment was previously an unheard of accolade for an aviation brigade, Davis said he hopes as many of the CAB Soldiers move on to new duty assignments they take with them lessons learned to help future commands achieve the same results.
"These Soldiers now have the experience and knowledge to know that it can be done," said Davis. "My hope is that the Soldiers pass on their knowledge, so other units can learn from our success; and this can be a recurring accomplishment.
"The Soldiers are the reason we did this," Davis continued. "It was a whole team concept and each and every one of the 4th Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade Soldiers should be proud of what we accomplished as a team."