NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the European theater called upon the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade to provide precision aviation support to bolster NATO's eastern flank. At the time, Spc. Megan Weir was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Attack Battalion), deployed to Latvia.
While on deployment, she demonstrated her competence, earning the trust of her team and a chance to lead her first forward arming and refueling point. During her leadership tenure, the team armed 30mm rockets supporting the battalion's aerial gunnery operations.
Weir was then chosen to serve on the downed aircraft recovery support team, which had her transport travel to Poland, over 1,000km — about 621 miles — with a maintenance support package. Eventually, when they redeployed back to Germany, she was selected for the brigade command group driver position.
In recognition of her outstanding efforts, the Army Aviation Association of America honored Spc. Weir during the Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit in Nashville, with the 2022 Gary G. Wetzel Aviation Soldier of the Year award. The Army Aviation Association of America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to representing the broad interests of Army aviation, presents the award to an enlisted Soldier, the rank of specialist and below, serving in an Army Aviation assignment which has made an outstanding individual contribution to Army aviation.
Along with the award, Weir received a special surprise — an on-the-spot promotion from the Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. James C. McConville. "I have the authority to promote her on the spot, and as Soldier of the Year I think she should be a sergeant," said McConville.
Weir explained how rehearsals were conducted before the award ceremony. Each recipient was told where to be and what to say. "I just remember telling myself to keep walking and shaking hands, and all of a sudden, the chief of staff of the Army said stop," said Weir. This was not part of the script.
"It was amazing and overwhelming; I was not expecting it. I must hold myself to a higher standard because I am a leader now; I have rank," said Weir.
The rank of sergeant is the first time in an enlisted Soldier's career that they can significantly impact their team and mentor junior-ranking Soldiers.
"That was a win. To have our senior commander reach down into the formation and show that people first matters and that winning matters," said Command Sgt. Maj. Kyle Clutter, command sergeant major for 12CAB.
Clutter went on to share he hopes the award and promotion inspire Soldiers to do the right thing even when no one is looking.
"It's something to aspire to as a young Soldier. You never know who is looking and when they will be around and when a target of opportunity will present itself," said Clutter.
Weir is currently assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 12 CAB, serving as the brigade command team driver, though she is a trained AH-64 helicopter armament/electrical/avionics systems repairer, or 15Y, by trade.
When Weir is not busy with the Army, she stays active during her time overseas. Between serving as the president of the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, or BOSS, program, volunteering her time to coach Child & Youth Services soccer and basketball, and serving as a softball umpire and referee for volleyball. The recent attention has allowed her to share her passions with other people.
"A lot of people don't know my story. People I work with do not know what I do outside of being a 15Y or now being the brigade driver," said Weir. "I now have a chance to tell people what I do with the BOSS program and my volunteering and coaching."
Shortly after returning to Germany following the ceremony, Weir was back on a plane headed for Colorado to try out for the U.S. Women’s Armed Forces Soccer Team. A coach from the USAG Ansbach fitness center who was familiar with her drive and passion applied on her behalf. The tryouts allowed her to push herself to perform at an advanced level with powerful women from all military branches.
"It's so cool to be around so many amazing women," said Weir. "Being here, surrounded by everyone, inspires me to keep going and working hard."
The Griffin Brigade is the only enduring combat aviation brigade stationed in Europe comprised of a disciplined team of warfighting professionals trusted to execute precision aviation operations anytime, anywhere.
12CAB is among other units assigned to V Corps, America's Forward Deployed Corps in Europe. They work alongside NATO Allies and regional security partners to provide combat-ready forces, execute joint and multinational training exercises, and retain command and control for all rotational and assigned units in the European Theater.