Sunday, March 22, 2009

Welcome Home!

After World War I, the cavalry retired their equestrian herd as a mode of transportation in wars and battles. 

When I joined the cavalry in 1966, the methods of troop movement were jeeps, Huey helicopters and parachuting from fixed-wing or rotary aircraft. Years after my volunteer service as an airborne infantryman in Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry in the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, the Defense Department reorganized the 101st into "air assault" with utilization of modern helicopters.  The division stopped parachuting and expanded the helicopter fleet. 

The reorganized Troop A recently completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan flying "choppers" like the one in the picture above. This OH-58D Kiowa Warrior aircraft is produced by Bell Helicopter and powered with a Rolls-Royce engine. Their armament can consist of Hellfire or Stinger missiles, rockets, and a 50 caliber Browning Machine Gun. Currently, Troop A consists of 10 helicopters, 16 pilots (3 are females), crew chiefs, and other military occupation specialty persons for a total of 45.

The troop returned last December from duty in the South-Central Asia country to their home base at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.  Fort Campbell is near Hopkinsville, Kentucky and Clarksville, Tennessee. 

Alpha Troop Association is a veteran's group open to all who served in this military unit. Membership consists of retired or discharged veterans, and active duty soldiers.  An association board meeting was held in Clarksville earlier this month.  Association leaders hosted a welcome home party for the soldiers and their spouses.  The party was held Friday evening at the Black Horse Pub and Brewery in downtown Clarksville.  There were unlimited drinks and food for three hours as war veterans and spouses mingled and met to thank each other for service in the military unit.  All were thankful for the event and the fifteen or so board members gladly contributed their personal money to pay all expenses of the evening.

The pictures below show the party and the festive mood.  One picture shows the current troop commander presenting a signed guidon to the Alpha Troop leader and commander of the troop from the Vietnam era. The guidon flew at base camp in Afghanistan and was presented to Alpha Troop Association out of respect and appreciation for the moral support extended to the current troopers.

The last picture shows me sitting in the cockpit of a helicopter inside a hangar on Fort Campbell.  I dreamed of being a pilot when I was an infantry paratrooper in Vietnam in 1966, but this is the closest I came to fulfilling that youthful dream.

Have a good week!


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