Brig. Gen. Mark R. Stammer, the Acting Senior Commander of Fort Campbell officiated the ceremony which was hosted by Col. Paul Bontrager, the commander of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade.
The 101st Combat Aviation Brigade brought to Afghanistan new capabilities, technology, tactics, techniques, and procedures to prosecute an ever-changing conflict, and validated the emerging capabilities that these advanced technologies provide the aircrews, war fighters, and mission command centers across the Regional Commands.
The brigade was rightly proud of their record during their deployment. Maintaining a 0-0-0 metric of success, indicating that there were no lives lost due to preventable accidents, no human error shoot downs, and no air engagements resulting in civilian casualties. Col. Bontrager credited the dedicated effort by all the soldiers from the task force for the brigades amazing performance.
Bontrager then took a moment to recognize the dignitaries in attendance at the ceremony, after which he continued.
On 10th August of last year, we gathered in this exact location to case our colors in anticipation of our pending deployment. While we had all deployed before we were again stepping forward into the unknown; as every deployment is distinct in ways that were in cannot anticipate.
So while we approached our deployment with a humble dignity and upmost respect for the duties ahead. We knew that our intentions were pure and that created a quiet confidence which enabled us to move into the dangers of combat, strengthened by the love of our families and this wonderful community that we call home.
Driven by the knowledge that our efforts to make a positive difference for the people of Afghanistan, but most importantly, we were compelled forward by the need to serve the soldiers on our left and right, to hold the line, to be the strength of our division.
So we set forth on a noble cause of complete dedication to the ground force commanders. We vowed to remain in patient for improvement contemptuous of complacency and to remove aviation tragedy caused by human error. You heard the narrator mention our goal of zero lives lost due to human error, aviation crashes, shoot downs, and inadvertent killing of civilians.
It is a lofty goal, and perhaps even naïve given the austere and foreboding flight environment that is Afghanistan. But nonetheless, and it was our goal and is worthy of an undertaking as we have ever embarked upon. Against all odds we were successful in reaching our goal.
But our deployment was not without heartbreak, and since we say that we would never forget. We you please join with me in a moment of silence and remembrance for the task force destiny soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice and the family members that they left behind.
- SPC Patricia L. Horne
- CW3 Matthew Ruffner
- CW2 Jarett Yoder
- Capt. Aaron R. Blanchard
- 1st Lt. Robert J. Hess
So while we are not proud, we are certainly very pleased. But may we never boast except in recognition of those truly responsible, our command teams of Troubleshooter, Saber, Shadow of the Eagle, Eagle Assault, and Expect No Mercy. Each one realized that this endeavor was larger than each task force individually, and that the only way that we would have true success was that uncommon teamwork, and serving a higher cause.
Our majors, the most talented group that I’ve ever observed. Who tirelessly planned, organized, collaborated, and ensured the success of each individual task force.
And perhaps most importantly, our senior warrant offices the finest talent ever assembled. And to whom we give the most credit for ensuring the daily safe execution of our aviation missions.
But in the end, as always, it comes down to the individual soldiers, the CW2 Aircrew Member, the Pfc. Door Gunner, the Crew Chief, the Mechanic, the Refueler, the Office Worker, and the Medic. Who we relied upon to do the right thing, 100% of the time when no one was looking. And it is to this group that we provide our greatest respect and our highest praise, but frankly we, the soldiers out chasing our dreams and our visions of grandeur, and we can only do this with the leave of those who hold down the home front.
To our family members, our family readiness groups, and are rear detachments back at Fort Campbell. Words cannot express the appreciation that we have for which you provided our families over the last year. More than mere words of support, you executed deeds of action; things like the Walk to Afghanistan, the Halfway Home Dining out, the Tough Mudder. Each event built resilient family members able to withstand adversity, and from afar we admired your efforts and also drew strength. You have been absolutely superb, we are all in your debt. Thanks for a job well done!
And finally to the division and installation leadership, and to our great communities . It is wonderful to be back with you. And thank you so much for you sustain support of our soldiers and their families. No one does it better.
Leaders, brothers and sisters of the 101st Airborne Division, and all wonderful communities. It has been a highest honor to serve with you during this critical time in history. May God continue to bless our wonderful division and the entire Fort Campbell community. Please take a moment to remember a division soldiers serving in harms way, and hold close the family members the daily behind. On the Wings of Destiny, Air Assault!