Staff Sgt. Todd Pouliot
10th Combat Aviation Brigade Journalist
Members of the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade gathered May 7 at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield to honor Soldiers of Task Force Phoenix – built around 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th CAB – on receiving a Department of the Army Outstanding Aviation Combat Support Battalion Award.
Brig. Gen. Michael L. Howard, 10th Mountain Division (LI) acting senior commanding officer, presented the Lt. Gen. Ellis D. Parker Award to Lt. Col. Anthony A. Meador, 3-10 GSAB commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Peter J. Garretson III, the unit’s senior enlisted adviser, who received it on behalf of their Soldiers.
“First and foremost, the (Lt. Gen. Ellis D. Parker) Award recognizes excellence in Army aviation,” said Col. David J. Francis, 10th CAB commander. “It also recognizes innovation.”
The award covered fiscal year 2013 and included major pre-deployment training, deployment to New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts in support of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, and deployment to Bagram Airfield, Afghan-istan, for a nine-month tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom XIV.
The Soldiers of TF Phoenix demonstrated excellence and innovation throughout 2013.
Leading up to its deployment to Afghanistan, Soldiers of 3-10 GSAB conducted two National Training Center and two Joint Readiness Training Center events, four aerial gunnery ranges, an Afghanistan Aviation Training Exercise, High Altitude Aviation Training, and two High Altitude Mountain Environment Training events in Colorado.
TF Phoenix deployed to Afghan-istan in May 2013 on the cusp of the most intense flying period and the summer fighting season. The task force flew 22,876 hours supporting 2,052 air missions; flew 2,150 VIPs and general officers; and moved 2,390 short tons, all without incident.
“The amazing thing about our battalion is we were (composed) of 11 companies,” said Lt. Col. Anthony A. Meador. Attached to TF Phoenix during their deployment to Afghanistan were C Company, 1-10 Aviation; A Company, 2-10 Aviation; B Company, 277th Aviation Support Battalion; and National Guard companies from California, Texas / Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
“The great thing that helped us out was incredible teamwork between the staff and the companies,” Meador said. “We did a phenomenal job day in and day out, especially with 24/7 mission requirements.”
Besides maintaining the most helicopters in the brigade, Task Force Phoenix Soldiers routinely flew the most hours per helicopter each month.
Maintainers launched and recovered between 34 and 38 aircraft daily from its fleet of 61 helicopters, which included AH-64 Apaches, OH-58 Kiowa Warriors, UH-60 Black Hawks, CH-47 Chinooks, and HH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopters.
During the first five months of the deployment, B Company, 277th Aviation Support Company, and D Company, 3-10 GSAB, completed 58 phase maintenance inspections across all seven models of the brigade’s aircraft. During fiscal year 2013, the task force achieved an accident rate 63 percent less than the Army air accident rate standard.
In addition to providing aerial medical evacuation capability throughout eastern Afghanistan, Task Force Phoenix’s MEDEVAC company implemented a new procedure, known as Vampire Protocol, which enabled flight medics to provide in-flight blood transfusions en route to higher-level care facilities.
This crucial capability is expected to save many lives.
“When I was talking to the formation after (the award) was announced, I wanted them to understand that we were No. 1 in enabling all those deployed forward troops in Afghanistan,” Meador said.
“Combat support is truly what we provided.”