Utah National Guard Honors the

1-211th Attack Helicopter Battalion

at Yellow Ribbon Ceremony

 

Written by Maj. Hank McIntire

Published August 19, 2005

       

An AH-64 Apache attack helicopter on display at Copper Hills High School for the Yellow Ribbon ceremony Aug. 6.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

An AH-64 Apache attack helicopter on display at Copper Hills

High School for the Yellow Ribbon ceremony Aug. 6.

WEST JORDAN, Utah The 211th Aviation Regiment conducted a Yellow Ribbon ceremony for the 350 Soldiers of the 1-211th Attack Helicopter Battalion at Copper Hills High School gymnasium Aug. 6.

The 1-211th returned in April after serving for a more than a year in Bagram and Qandahar, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Narrated by Maj. Paul Brady, the ceremony opened with music provided by the 23rd Army Band and the posting of the colors. Jolene Sjoblom sang the National Anthem and Chaplain (Maj.) Mark Allison offered an invocation.

Albert Winn, Boeing’s vice president for Apache programs then presented a Boeing Combat Pin to Chief Warrant Officer Stew Smith, the youngest aviator in the 1-211th.  Each Soldier in the unit will receive a pin from Boeing, the manufacturer of the AH-64 Apache helicopter.

Chief Warrant Officer Stew Smith, receives a Combat Pin from Albert Winn of the Boeing Company.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

Chief Warrant Officer Stew Smith, receives a Combat Pin

from Albert Winn of the Boeing Company.

Soldiers then viewed a video recording of an awards presentation of the Army Aviation Association of America to leaders of the 1-211th. Each year the association selects three outstanding aviation units to recognize: One in the Active Army, one in the Army Reserve and one in the National Guard.  The association selected the 1-211th as the outstanding National Guard Aviation unit of the year.

Lt. Col. Scott Robinson, commander of the 1-211th, then presented a Freedom Salute Award to Spc. Jeffery Walker, the youngest Soldier to deploy with the battalion. Each returning Soldier will receive the award which includes an encased American flag, a commemorative coin, a “Defender of Freedom” certificate and lapel insignia.

Before he spoke to his Soldiers, Robinson removed the yellow ribbon from his battalion’s colors, signifying officially that the 1-211th had completed it mission and returned home.

Spc. Jeffery Walker, center, receives a Freedom Salute Award from his commander, Lt. Col. Scott Robinson, left, and Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Stearman.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

Spc. Jeffery Walker, center, receives a Freedom Salute

Award from his commander, Lt. Col. Scott Robinson, left,

and Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Stearman.

In his remarks Robinson highlighted the accomplishments of his unit in Afghanistan to include logging more than 17,000  Apache helicopter flight hours, transporting more than 42,000 personnel, conducting 10 aircraft recoveries, capturing thousands of pounds of enemy munitions, hauling five million pounds of cargo and flying nearly 2,000 air-assault, escort, and security missions.

The 1-211th also distributed over 100,000 pounds of humanitarian aid sent by the Angels of Afghanistan, a charitable group organized and staffed by spouses of deployed Soldiers of the battalion, said Robinson.

While Robinson lauded these impressive results, he reserved his greatest praise for his Soldiers.

“I appreciate these Soldiers, first and foremost because I owe them my life. I love these men and women with all my heart,” he said, to which one Soldier spontaneously responded, “We love you too, sir!”

Lt. Col. Scott Robinson, right, removes the yellow ribbon from the battalion colors with assistance from Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Stearman.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

Lt. Col. Scott Robinson, right, removes the yellow

ribbon from the 1-211th Battalion colors with

assistance from Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Stearman.

Robinson also paid tribute to his Soldiers who are still recovering from combat wounds and to Staff Sgt. Alan Rogers of the 1-211th who died in Afghanistan,

“He is my pirate brother, and I will always remember him as such” said Robinson.

Col. Greggory Cluff, commander of the 211th, also spoke to the Soldiers and commended them for the impact they had on the people of Afghanistan.

“I want to thank you for upholding the tradition of the United States Army by leaving a country better than you found it. You touched the hearts of individuals by making their lives better,” Cluff said.

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, Adjutant General of the Utah National Guard, keynoted the ceremony with his characteristically brief and to-the-point remarks.

Family and friends attend the Yellow Ribbon ceremony honoring theSoldiers of the 1-211th.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

Family and friends attend the Yellow Ribbon

 ceremony honoring the Soldiers of the 1-211th.

“You are a sight for sore eyes. We thank God for your safe return,” Tarbet said. “This is the number one Aviation unit in the Army—period. It’s a privilege to soldier with all of you.”

Pointing to the crowd of families and friends assembled in the bleachers, Tarbet told the Soldiers, “The real heroes in this building are in these stands today.”

Speaking directly to the families Tarbet added, “Thank you so much for what you do. We don’t pin a lot of medals on you, but we should.” 

Tarbet asked the Soldiers of the 1-211th to stand and applaud their loved ones. They stood as one and cheered and clapped for those they had left behind for the past year and a half. 

Then Tarbet reminded Soldiers of what lies ahead of them.

“The future of Aviation in Utah is bright, but we need every single one of you Soldiers to refit and rebuild [this unit],” he said.

Soldiers of the 1-211th give a standing ovation to their families and supporters during the Yellow Ribbon ceremony.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

Soldiers of the 1-211th give a standing ovation to their

families and supporters during the Yellow Ribbon ceremony.

Following the ceremony, Soldiers and families mingled with one another and their leaders. Chief Warrant Officer Devin Snowball, an Apache pilot with the 1-211th, summed up what the ceremony meant to him.

“It’s our final sigh at the end. We made it; the families made it.” Snowball said. “Now we have some time with our families, and we’re able to rest and start training up again.”

Lois Mulholland, mother of Pfc. Matthew Mulholland, 1-211th, appreciated the tribute to Soldiers and families.

“It was nice to see everyone together in uniform and have the families recognized,” she said. “Matthew is our youngest, and we’re very proud of our three children who are connected with the military. They’re all very patriotic.”

David Mulholland, Matthew’s father, also enjoyed the ceremony.

“I think that every young man should have an opportunity to serve overseas and go through what they’ve been though,” he said. “I’m proud that Matthew did this, and he did well. I think it’s wonderful.”

Maj. Gen. Tarbet speaks to 1-211th Soldiers and families at the Yellow Ribbon ceremony Aug. 6.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

Maj. Gen. Tarbet speaks to 1-211th Soldiers and

families at the Yellow Ribbon ceremony Aug. 6.

The "Defender of Freedom" certificate presented to each Soldier of the 1-211th.

Photo by Maj. Hank McIntire

The "Defender of Freedom" certificate

presented to each Soldier of the 1-211th.