MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker and senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders joined families and friends at a formal sendoff ceremony April 22 for nearly seven dozen members of the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment who will deploy to the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
The deploying Soldiers, drawn from Headquarters, Delta and Echo companies of the 147th Aviation — a Black Hawk helicopter unit — will provide troop movement, medevac escort and VIP support.
“Today, we embark on a unique mission,” said Lt. Col. Scott Bush, commander of the deploying unit. “Though this is not our normal mission, you know the 147th Aviation Battalion will meet all challenges and exceed all expectations.”
Bush and other Wisconsin National Guard leaders thanked friends and family members for supporting the deploying Soldiers.
“If you need help, you need to reach out to us,” Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s senior enlisted advisor, told families at the ceremony. “We are here to help — don’t think that you’re out there alone.”
Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Army, spoke to the children at the ceremony.
“I know that you’re extremely proud of your mom or your dad, your brother or sister,” Anderson said. “I want you to know that you are as much a part of that as your loved one in uniform.”
Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, also addressed family members.
“I know that this is hard — hard to say goodbye to your loved one for a year,” Dunbar said. “But, I also see and share the pride that you have in your Soldier as he or she heads off to defend our nation.”
Dunbar thanked the employers of the deploying Soldiers.
“We could not perform our mission without you,” he said, “and we are grateful.”
Conde reminded those Soldiers who have deployed previously of their added responsibility.
“Make sure those first-timers know what it means to deploy, and what it means to be successful,” Conde said. “We’ve got a lot of confidence and a lot of experience here — you need to share that.”
Anderson expressed his confidence in the deploying unit.
“This unit is once again getting called to go overseas,” he told family members. “They get the call frequently because they’re that darn good. They are the best aviators across the 54 [states and territories], I’ll tell you that right now.”
Last month, Soldiers from the battalion’s Alpha and Delta companies mobilized for a deployment to Kuwait. That same day, Soldiers from the West Bend, Wis.-based Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation mobilized for a deployment to Afghanistan.
Anderson added that the deploying Soldiers would “knock it out of the park.” Dunbar agreed.
“You have trained hard, you are ready and I am proud of you,” Dunbar said. “Today, you cased your guidon signifying the transfer of this unit from the Wisconsin National Guard, under the governor’s command, to the Army National Guard of the United States, under the president’s command. You are fulfilling that first mission as the Army’s primary combat reserve. A reminder for all of us, that you are 100 percent American Soldiers, but you are more — you are part of the National Guard, the most flexible, adaptable and necessary force for our nation.”
Walker cited Isaiah 54:17 — “No weapon forged against you shall prevail” — and praised the deploying Soldiers.
“You’re the best of the best,” Walker said. “You are well-trained, you are well-prepared, you are ready to take on your assignment. We thank you for your service.”
As he presented Bush with a state flag, Walker said the 147th Aviation was carrying on a tradition of selfless service and courage dating back to the Civil War.
Bush told his superiors that their confidence in his unit was well-placed.
“I assure you, we have effectively utilized the limited time available to train up for this mission,” Bush said. “And I am confident in saying, ‘Sir, we are ready.’”
The Soldiers will complete several weeks of mobilization training at Fort Hood, Texas, before deploying overseas for several months. The battalion has previously deployed to Kosovo in 2006-07 and to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn in 2010-11.