Story by Capt. Jessica Donnelly
EASTOVER, SOUTH CAROLINA – The South Carolina National Guard held a departure ceremony Aug. 26, 2017 at McEntire Joint National Guard Base to recognize Soldiers of the 1-151st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB) deploying to provide aviation capabilities under the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade in Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
Approximately 190 Soldiers with the 1-151st ARB will deploy for nearly a year. While deployed, the unit will combine with other National Guard and active duty components to become a task force that will conduct aviation operations with AH-64 Apaches, UH-60 Black Hawks, CH-47 Chinooks and medevac assets.
“You are ready,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Brian Pipkin, 1-151st ARB commander. “You are well trained and well equipped, but we’re not there yet.”
The Soldiers spent months leading up to the departure, training in preparation for the deployment including qualifying on aviation gunnery, as well as training on individual Soldier skills. They will spend approximately one month in Texas continuing to train before heading overseas.
U.S. Army Col. Andrew Batten, 59th Aviation Troop Command commander, explained, the 1-151st ARB is a unit of exceptional Soldiers carrying on traditions in Army aviation, continuing to adapt and overcome any obstacles they face.
“It has been a challenging train up for the mobilization…the Soldiers have worked hard to get ready for deployment,” added Batten. “You have built a team of adaptive [non-commissioned officers] and officers who are prepared.”
The unit has completed numerous previous deployments and overseas operations including in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004, Operation New Dawn in 2011, where the Soldiers from the 1-151st ARB were among the last U.S. forces to depart the Iraq area of operations, and Operation Spartan Shield in Kuwait in 2012.
“You left your civilian jobs, stepped forward and said I’m going to serve today…This is what America is all about and you are a part of it,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr, the Adjutant General of South Carolina. “These Soldiers make it possible to live in a free nation.”
Livingston added, the Soldiers are not the only ones who sacrifice while serving. The families support their service members, which helps accomplish the mission.
“It’s going to be a difficult time, but you volunteered and because of your sacrifices, future generations will have opportunities and freedoms in this nation,” said Livingston.
In Texas, the 1-151st ARB will join additional Soldiers from the South Carolina National Guard and Illinois National Guard, 2-238th General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB), Iowa National Guard, 2-211th GSAB, and Pennsylvania National Guard, Charlie Company, 1-151st ARB.
“We are a team,” said Pipkin. “We fight as a team and we will return as a team.”