WIESBADEN, Germany — Echo Company of the 1-214th Aviation Battalion, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, based at Wiesbaden Army Airfield provides a unique capability to the U.S. Army Europe and Africa commander that many people do not know exists. Army fixed-wing aviation provides small jet and turbo-prop platforms such as the UC-35 and C-12 that can fly quickly over long distances and land at small airfields.
“Our normal rotational missions provide a critical lifeline to forward supported areas,” said Lt. Col. Matthew McGraw, Commander of the 1-214th Aviation Battalion. “For the first few months of the pandemic, Army fixed-wing was the only way to get critical medical supplies like testing kits and personal protective equipment, and to retrograde COVID samples for US Army rotational forces in Poland, Romania, and Greece.”
Last March, while most other units were scaling back operations to begin maximizing telework in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, the operational tempo for the fixed-wing company of the 12th CAB increased significantly. In those early days, the battalion and brigade staffs worked with embassies and customs officials for each country to figure out the requirements for Army international flights during a pandemic.
“We had to increase the number of flights in order to reduce the amount of time each crew spent in higher risk areas. Where we would normally have a crew stay overnight in locations in order to make multiple stops on one trip, we instead maximized out-and-back missions to reduce risk, which increased the operational complexity of each mission,” said McGraw.
In their normal role outside of COVID-19 response, 12th CAB is THE enabler to move leaders around the theater for key engagements with our partners and allies. Lt. Col. McGraw sometimes even flies missions himself: “Like yesterday’s mission to get Gen. Cavoli to a critical engagement in Finland, get him into Helsinki, and then get him back here…there’s not another capability that could do that mission.”