By Sgt. Alun Thomas, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsJanuary 12, 2010
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - After three deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and over 225,000 hours flown, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade can claim to have played an essential role during its seven years of combat in Iraq.
Producing those hours requires teamwork, something everyone in 1st ACB contributed to in some fashion say the leaders, making this a significant number for them all.
The 225,000 hours comes from the endless work and contributions from pilots down to maintainers, said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Donald Washabaugh, from Collingswood, N.J., brigade aviation maintenance officer, 1st ACB, 1st Cavalry Division, U.S. Division - Center.
"The significance about where we're going and the amount of hours that we've had is the cumulative effect all the Soldiers have been producing constantly out here," Washabaugh said. "Nobody thinks about what they've done, but nearly a quarter of a million hours shows the ... tons of things we've moved."
"It's [also] the protection in the sky and the convoys we've covered," he added.
During its three deployments, the unit has averaged more than 70,000 hours of flight, Washabaugh said, with almost as much time expended performing maintenance to make those hours possible.
"We measure the flight time in hours and the hours also represent maintenance too," Washabaugh said. "With the hours of phase maintenance added on to the 225,000 hours flown, it would add up to 350,000, which is about 700 phases."
Washabaugh said their helicopters are the lifeblood of 1st ACB, which is the reason that teamwork has been so vital to the success of the brigade over its various deployments.
"The whole brigade is wrapped around those helicopters," he said. "It's not wrapped around the pilots; it's not wrapped around the individuals in there, but it's wrapped around producing that combat power."
The mission has changed for 1st ACB as Iraq's security has become more stable, but Washabaugh said the hours flown indicate the difference the brigade has made.
"We're still on combat hours because there are still hostile forces out there, but it's not in direct hunting or attacking, it's delivered more in defense or deterrence," Washabaugh said. "It shows the success that we've had in producing safety for the population."
Washabaugh said safety accounts for much of the flight time.
"That's part of what our hours represent; that protective umbrella that has been out there for the Iraqis and our Soldiers, too," he said. "So we've done a phenomenal job putting it all together ... We know what we're doing."
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Cliff Mead, from Copperas Cove, Texas, brigade aviation maintenance officer, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, said he shares Washabaugh's opinion about their efforts.
"Everyone has contributed to the missions, from the refuelers ... to the kids at the motorpool who keep the refueler trucks going," Mead said. "When I've got Soldiers on the flight line that are doing maintenance anywhere from 12 to 14 hours a day, somebody else has to take care of their issues, too."
"Everybody gets a piece of this," Mead added.
Mead specifically praised to the maintenance crews, who he attributed to making the difference in attaining the mark.
"When you look at the overall safety - what the Soldiers have produced in maintenance - there are a lot of hours that go into that," he said. "When you have that many flying hours requiring that much maintenance, you're talking about a major maintenance action happening on average every 300 hours. That is something to be proud of and I'm proud of our Soldiers who have done that."