Battalion commander traces family legacy with Army Aviation

By Lt. Col. Jennifer BocanegraJune 26, 2023

Battalion Commander traces family legacy with Army Aviation
Lt. Col. Brad DeLoach sits in the cockpit of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter with his 12-year old son Robert, right, and maternal grandfather, retired Col. Edwin H. "Bud" Henry, center. DeLoach, who was adopted as an infant, learned about his birth family’s ties to military service and Army aviation almost three years ago through an at-home genealogy test and research through the alumni database at the U.S. Army War College. (Photo Credit: Photo courtesy Lt. Col. Brad DeLoach) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — Lt. Col. Brad DeLoach took command of 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment “Lobos”, Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division in February 2022 while the battalion was deployed in Europe. The battalion, which consists of seven different companies, supports the largest and most diverse mission across the brigade.

DeLoach began his career as an aviation officer with the U.S. Army after receiving a commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps with Presbyterian College out of Clinton, South Carolina in 2004.

DeLoach said he chose a life of service because every man in his family aside from one grandfather served in the military in some capacity. His dad served in Korea with the U.S. Army band. His parents always encouraged him chase his dreams of becoming an Army officer.

“I always wanted to join the service,” said DeLoach. “Every male in my life served in the military growing up.”

After being inspired to pursue a career with Army Aviation by 82nd Airborne Division pilot, Capt. Kimberly Hampton, who was killed during combat operations in Iraq, he was selected to serve as an aviator and went on to complete qualifications to operate the CH-47 Chinook and OH-58 Kiowa helicopters.

During the past 19 years of service, DeLoach has held a range of leadership and staff positions at all levels of command. He currently leads a formation consisting of over 500 service members including enlisted Soldiers, warrant officers and commissioned officers who operate and maintain a fleet of CH-47 Chinooks and UH-60L and HH-60M Black Hawks that support a variety of missions from medical evacuation to transporting personnel and equipment.

“I love supporting the ground force commander either on their worst day or best day,” he said. “I enjoy what I do and will continue to do this as long as I feel I’m still making contributions to the team and my family is still with me.”

Almost three years ago while working at the U.S. Army War College, Deloach — who adopted as an infant — connected with his birth family through an at-home genealogy test.

“I completed the test kit and received an email a few days later stating I had a match,” he said.

DeLoach then reached out to a friend for assistance locating birth family-biological story and learned he had a natural familial connection to the U.S. Army.

DeLoach always knew there was a military connection because he was born in a military hospital.

“I checked the [U.S. Army War College] database and discovered a U.S. Army Aviation colonel named Edwin 'Bud' Henry,” he said.

After some preparation and consideration, DeLoach worked up the courage to reach out to Bud through a phone call.

Henry, now 81 years-old and retired as a colonel, said he was shopping and received the call from DeLoach.

“It was stunning. I listened to what he had to say very quickly and I said you are my grandson,” Henry said. “This is the phone call I’ve been waiting 40 years for.”

After talking for over an hour on the phone, DeLoach and Henry discovered several similarities in their careers. Both served as aviation instructors and with the 227th Aviation Regiment.

Though Henry’s time with Army aviation took place over 50 years go, this year during the 2-227th Aviation Regiment Battalion’s military ball, Henry was presented with the designation as an honorable colonel of the 227th Aviation Regiment signed by the chief of U.S. Army Aviation, Maj. Gen. Michael C. McCurry.

In reflection of connecting with his grandson, Henry expressed his joy in meeting his great grandchildren and hearing about DeLoach’s career.

“It’s been amazing. He is interested in my war, Vietnam, and we talk about both of our careers with the service,” he said. “I’m so proud of his career. He is a people person who cares about his soldiers.”

In December 2020, DeLoach was able to reconnect with his birth mother and siblings in Franklin, Tennessee.

“I always knew if I had a chance to meet my biological mother I’d say 'thank you,'” he said. “I am so blessed to have two amazing parents who raised me to be the person I am today and for my biological family who accepted me and my family from the beginning of this amazing new journey.”