Sept. 22 , 2010
Sandston-based National Guard aviation battalion ordered to mobilize for active duty in Iraq
By Cotton Puryear
Virginia Dept. of Military Affairs
The Virginia National Guard’s Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment has received a mobilization order to enter federal active service beginning Feb. 25, 2011 for duty in Iraq, according to an announcement made Sept. 22 by Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia.
A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew from the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment practices making landings in harsh environments like dust and sand Aug. 11 at Fort Bragg, N.C. during the three-week annual training. The training is similar to landings the crew would have to make if they were deployed to a desert environment and helped prepare the unit for their upcoming mobilization to Iraq. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)
Approximately 400 Soldiers are scheduled to report to Fort Hood, Texas to conduct mobilization training for approximately one to two months before deploying overseas. Once they arrive in Iraq, they will conduct their normal missions which include troop air assault and air movement, casualty evacuation, aerial re-supply and any other requested aviation missions.
The battalion is organized into three flight companies with a total of 30 Black Hawk helicopters along with a maintenance company, headquarters company and forward support company. Of the 400 Soldiers mobilizing, approximately 75 are from the Maryland National Guard’s Company C, and small detachments from Companies D and E, as well as the headquarters company of 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment.
“Even though the mission of United States military forces in Iraq has shifted away from combat operations, there is still important work to be done in Iraq,” Long said. “There is a need for the kind of support this aviation battalion can provide, and I am confident the men and women of this battalion have the skills, leadership and training needed to be successful.”
The battalion last mobilized for federal active duty in Iraq from January 2006 to February 2007.
“We just completed a very successful three-week training period at Fort Bragg that has put us right on track with our deployment preparations,” said Lt. Col. Neal Edmonds, commander of the battalion. “The ‘Punishers’ will be ready to deploy and execute our mission when we mobilize in February.”
According to Lt. Col. Jim Ring, the Virginia Guard’s state aviation officer, the Virginia Guard will still have helicopters available for mission support should the Guard be called on for state active duty.
While headquartered in Sandston, the battalion is made up of Soldiers from all over the state. Approximately 110 Soldiers are from the Richmond and Petersburg area, about 50 are from the Hampton Roads area, approximately 15 are from the Charlottesville and Central Virginia area, about 25 are from the Northern Virginia area, approximately 15 are from the Fredericksburg and Stafford County area and the other Soldiers are from various locations across the state.
The mobilization orders call for an active duty period not to exceed 400 days, but the Secretary of Defense can extend tours for operational needs not to exceed 24 months or 730 days.
Virginia-based assault helicopter battalion trains at Fort Bragg
RAW VIDEO: Virginia-based 2-224 Aviation Battalion trains at Fort Bragg
(link for high resolution MOV available with YouTube video)
PHOTOS: Sandston-based 2-224th Aviation Soldiers conduct Black Hawk maintenance
PHOTOS: 2-224th Aviation conducts Annual Training at Fort Bragg
PHOTOS: Virginia pilots rehearse environmental landings
Virginia aviation unit completes joint exercise
National Guard aviation battalion begins joint exercise in Wisconsin