To the Flight,
First of all thanks to everyone that has supported the Comancheros on another overseas adventure. This update is long over due so bear with the length. But I feel that it is important that we keep everyone informed of how we are continuing the legacy that you all started.
As you know we deployed at the end of Feb to Kuwait with 64 soldiers 15 Helicopters and 4 Hummvs. This was to include 3 wonder additions to the company from the National Guard. One from Ohio CW4 Marty Cirrachi (a Vietnam Vet) and two from New Jersey CW4 Jim Castronova, CW4 Mike Polyiak, after assembling the aircraft and moving to our field site known as “Thunder 1” we did environmental training in preparation for future operations in Iraq.
During this time we were augmented from the infantry with 12 doorgunners. With a lot of hard work from all of our crewchiefs and pilots we managed to integrate about 8 of them into operational crewmembers. This was a great addition to the team. Although not all of them flew they provided the crewchiefs additional maintenance time, and provided additional force protection with basic infantry skills to the company. Unfortunately, all Infantry 1SGs are cussing my name for ruining their rock hard soldiers by showing them how aviators live.
Our first operation was to insert 327th “ Rakkasan” infantry soldiers into farps Shell, Exxon, and Texaco; this was done so we could secure a line of fuel all the way to Baghdad. After it was all said and done, the division realized that this was the longest Air Assault that the 101st had ever done. Although the mission went well, the aircraft did take a beating and we as well as the Kingsmen lost an aircraft. We continued supporting the mission until ground forces had secured the area, which enabled our support to move forward.
The ground movement was an adventure. The ground convoy rolled for 27 straight hours covering over 400 miles of hostile area. We along with the aircraft moved to, yes you guessed it, “Thunder 2” which was approx. 100 miles SW of Baghdad. We stayed there 10 days awaiting an airfield to open, which did. All the boys were excited about moving out of the dirt, till we got there and found out that we would be in the dirt because the Apaches needed the hard stand. This camp was called of course “Thunder 3”. For the Iraqis this was called Ishcandariyah it was known to us as Scandi, for the boys it was Isgonarrhea, because it was worse than having the “Clap”. This place was so dusty we logged half of our time as IFR. Of course the Division which is always concerned about it’s aviation assets failed to move us 15 miles in any direction to get a better location, so we operated out of there for 2 months. Unfortunately these conditions caused another accident, resulting in a totaled aircraft and some minor injuries. The company was then down to 13 aircraft. (This was 4 months ago and we a still only have 13).
We did have a break from the dust when the company was selected to support the 502nd Infantry while they secured a Dam site to the west towards Syria. Special Forces and the Air Force ran the facility so we took full advantage to reset our clock and be away from the flagpole.
Upon our return we found out that our mission would move North in the area of Mosul. The 101st would be responsible for the northern sector of Iraq. So we moved north with a short stop at Baghdad International Airport (that the 3rd ID soldiers left in a state of ruin) for approximately 5 days. We arrived at our present location of Tall Afar by mid May. This airfield was an an old Iraqi air force base that was not hit by American forces so other than the sheep shit from the bedawen herders we were happy to be here. This location enables us to support the 3rd INF BDE soldiers while still being close to the Division, which is spread out around the Mosul Area. We have been here for 4 months. A lot of work has been done to improve the living conditions and we have more or less settled in.
Unfortunately we have had to say goodbye to several Comancheros along the way due to PCS or ETS. These brothers will always have a home here in the company. CW2 George Logan, CW2 Gene Goetzke, CW4 Ralph Ferrell, SGT Jason Deer, SPC Jason Keefer, CPL Chris Lambert, our 3 National Guard Guys and our 12 doorgunners (thanks for all you did).
We said a bittersweet goodbye to our Comanchero 06 that brought us over to Iraq and thru the bulk of the operation, CPT John Butora. John chose to pursue a civilian career and best of luck from all of us. And now the sweet, our present Comanchero 06 is CPT Alicia Chivers. She is no stranger to the company, for she was the BN S-4 prior to coming on board.
To highlight some key events; the company has flown over 3000 combat hours, supported numerous Arms raids, Convoy security and over 1000 resupply missions. We were selected to fly Secretary of State Powell. (See enclosed photo) All in all we have been holding up the legacy that was started long before us and will continue after this generation of Comancheros.
“Shoot’em in the Face!! “
Copyright © 2004 A/101 AVN. All rights reserved. Revised: 12/14/04.