3-142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion History
The 3-142 AHB traces its heritage back to 1947 with the formation of a fixed wing aviation detachment of L-19 Bird Dogs assigned to Miller Field in Staten Island, New York. Ultimately, this section of aircraft along with other aircraft from II Corps and the 101st Armored Cavalry Regiment formed the 42nd Aviation Company at Huntington Station, New York in 1959.
Four years later, in 1963, the units were again reorganized as the 42nd Aviation Battalion at Freeport, New York. By this time, the unit was equipped with O-1A Bird Dogs and U-6 Beavers. Over the next decade, the 42nd Aviation Battalion would grow, having letter companies assigned across New York and Massachusetts. By now, the Army aviation divisional level units were transitioning to rotary wing aircraft. As such, in 1968, the battalion received the OH-13 Sioux and OH-23 Raven. Three years later, Alpha Company, located in Niagara Falls, New York picked up the first UH-1 “Hueys” as did Bravo Company based in Massachusetts. Although these companies were predominantly lift units with “D” and “H” models, they were supplemented with attack platoons of “C” and “M” model gunship versions.
Over the next several years and through several additional re-organizations, the 42nd Aviation Battalion, in 1985, had over 1000 personnel and 125 aircraft that included the AH-1 Cobra, OH-6 Cayuse, and UH-1 Iroquois. All division aviation assets were now under the control of the battalion commander.
In October 1986, with the advent of the “Army of Excellence”, the 42nd Aviation Battalion (Combat) was re-designated as the Aviation Brigade, 42nd Infantry Division, with assets scattered throughout New York State: 1-142nd Avn Regt (Attack) in Latham, 2-142nd Avn Regt (Assault) in Niagara Falls, and C & D/101 Cavalry on Long Island. Further restructuring in 1995 led to the deactivation of the Niagara Falls unit and 1-142nd moving to Rochester. This unit received “F” model Cobras and began their transition to the attack mission. The now flagless Latham unit was re-designated as the 3-142nd Avn Regt (Assault) and began receiving the first UH-60 Blackhawks of the state.
Following this transition to the new airframe, 3-142nd began a series of deployments and state active duty missions including the New York State prison guard strike in 1979, several New Horizons assistance deployments to Honduras (1998 - 2006), World Trade Center 9/11 assistance in 2001-2002, a mobilization and deployment to Bosnia (2002-03), assistance to New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina (2005), guarding the New York City bridges, tunnels, rail stations, airports (2006) and border patrol along the US - Mexican border (2006). Likewise, in 2006, the battalion moved its headquarters from Latham and the state capital region to Ronkonkoma at Macarthur / Islip airport on Long Island.
In May 2007, following yet another reorganization in which the battalion was re-configured to its current make-up as an Assault Helicopter Battalion under LTC Al Ricci, the unit received its mobilization alert order prepping it to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Over the past year, this battalion has been conducted numerous training events including two annual training events at Fort Drum, two Aviation Training Exercises at Fort Rucker, and integrated a third assault company from the Missouri National Guard in preparation for its most ambitious task: going to a combat zone and conducting its wartime mission.