The 40th CAB transferred the mission to the 29th CAB, which will provide full-spectrum aviation operations during the final weeks of the drawdown of American forces in Iraq. Meanwhile, the more than 3,000 soldiers that fell under the 40th CAB’s command are headed home.
The 40th CAB began conducting full-spectrum aviation operations in theater support of Operation New Dawn March 6. Since then, it has performed over 19,000 aviation missions â€” everything from medical evacuations to VIP flights to movement of cargo and personnel to reconnaissance missions to convoy security. Its 275 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft logged more than 121,000 flight hours in Iraq.
The TOA ceremony was held in an aircraft hangar on the airfield at Camp Taji. In attendance were Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, deputy commanding general for Operations, United States, Forces-Iraq; Maj. Gen. Bernard Champoux, commanding general, United States Division-Center; Brig. Gen. Paul LaCamera, deputy commanding general for Operations, United States Division-Center; three Iraqi generals from Taji Air Base; and soldiers from the 29th CAB and the 40th CAB.
“It is worth noting that the 40th CAB commanded the largest aviation brigade ever mobilized,” Champoux told the crowd. “From March to May 2011, the 40th CAB was the only aviation brigade in all of Iraq.”
The 40th CAB’s helicopters, unmanned aerial systems and airplanes have been familiar sights in the skies of Iraq in 2011. Its aircraft played a critical role during the drawdown phase of the Iraq conflict by providing force protection and freedom of maneuver as American forces closed bases and moved out.
Col. Mitch Medigovich, 40th CAB commander and CH-47 Chinook pilot, thanked American and Iraqi guests for attending the ceremony. He then said he felt mixed emotions about casing his unit’s colors.
“There is a deep sense of pride and accomplishment in having contributed to the success and the honor of Operation New Dawn,” Medigovich said. “There’s excitement in returning home to our loved ones and our friends. At the same time, there’s sadness in losing the camaraderie and the day-to-day contact with our valued team members. The memories of our mission here will certainly last a lifetime.”
The 40th CAB is a California Army National Guard unit headquartered in Fresno, Calif. For the deployment, it oversaw active-duty Army, National Guard and Army Reserve units in seven battalions, with elements from 22 states.
Medigovich wished luck to his replacement, Col. David Carey, commander of the 29th CAB, a Maryland Army National Guard-led unit.
“I’m proud to say our soldiers are ready and motivated to accomplish the mission ahead,” Carey said. “We all understand the intent and will remain engaged until the completion of Operation New Dawn, safely and honorably.”
Carey thanked Medigovich and the soldiers of the 40th CAB for their hospitality and mentorship over the two weeks since his unit arrived in theater. “My only concern is that you are a hard act to follow,” Carey said. “I wish you safe travels and an eventful and happy holiday season. Godspeed.”
Written by 1st Lt. Jason Sweeney, 40th Combat Aviation Brigade
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Redistributed by www.SupportOurTroops.org\