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CONTACT: Sgt. 1st Class Steven Petibone, (518)786-4581 or (cell) 518-225-6649
FOR RELEASE: Saturday, Dec 05, 2009

New Commander For Army National Guard Assault Helicopter Battalion

Media Advisory

RONKONKOMA, NY (12/03/2009)-- Lt. Col. Mark Slusar, a veteran New York Army National Guard Aviation Officer will take command of the 3rd of the 142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion from Lt. Col. Albert Ricci, on Saturday. Dec. 5. WHO: Lt. Col. Mark Slusar, the incoming commander; Lt. Col. Albert Ricci, the outgoing commander, and the men and women of the 3rd of the 142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion. WHAT: Traditional change-of-command ceremony in which Lt. Col. Ricci will hand the battalion flag, commonly called the colors, to Lt. Col. Slusar to mark the transition from one commander to another. WHEN: 1130 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009 WHERE: 201Schaefer Drive, Ronkonkoma NY, 11779 Coverage Opportunities: Interviews with Lt. Col. Slusar , and Lt. Col. Ricci about the missions of the battalion and its role in supporting troops in combat. Visual opportunities will include the passing of the battalion colors and imagery of the troops in massed formation. BACKGROUND: The Change of Command: The Change of Command Ceremony dates back to the days in which a military unit's flag marked its position in the line of battle. The colors were always near the commander, so troops knew where to rally on the battlefield. Today the transfer of the colors marks a change in the unit and givens the soldiers their first opportunity to see and hear their new leader. The change of command ceremony recognizes the accomplishments of the outgoing commander and the Soldiers who served under him. In addition, the ceremony identifies the new commander to the Soldiers, so they can follow him on thefield of battle. Lt. Col. Mark Slusar: Lt. Col Mark F. Slusar, age 42, enlisted in the United States Army in 1985. After basic training he served with the 524th Military Intelligence Battalion in South Korea and then with the s10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York. In 1988 he joined the New York Army National Guard, assigned to Headquarters Company 1st Brigade, 42nd Infantry Division. He entered Officer Candidate School in 1990 and attended Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Following his military education he was assigned to 2nd Battalion 142nd Aviation in Niagara Falls as Intelligence Officer. In 1994, Slusar transferred to the 3rd-142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion in Latham and attended fligth school to become a pilot. He qualified on the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. In 1998 he became a full-time Army National Guard officer, serving as the personnel officer of the 3-142nd. He has also served as Headquarters and Headquarters Company Commander and Operations Officer. IN 2002-2003 he commanded an aviation detachment serving on peacekeeping duties in Bosnia-Herzegovina. His service also included deployments to Honduras, the Joint Readiness Training Center and response to the 1998 Ice Storm in the North Country. In 2006 Slusar was named Domestic Operations Plans Officer for the New York National Guard and in 2007 he became Chief of Operations for the New York National Guard's Domestic Operations Section. In 2008 he was named deputy director for domestic operations. During his service in domestic operations the New York National Guard respondede to flooding in the Southern Tier and Delaware County, snow storms in Buffalo, Wildfires in Ulster County and snow emergencies in Oswego. His awards include the Army Aviator Badge, Meritorious SErvice Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, NATO Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal,and National Defense Service Medal. Slusar currently resides in Belleport New York with his wife Sandra and their daughter Abigail, after relocating from East Chatham, Columbia County. Lt. Col. Albert Ricci: Lt. Col. Albert J. Ricci an ROTC Distinguished Graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida where he received a Baccalaureate Degree in Aeronautical Studies in 1985. Ricci holds Federal Aviation Administration licenses of Commercial Pilot: Airplane Single-Multi Engine Land, Instrument License and Commercial Helicopter Instrument License. Ricci's Army career began in 1985 when he attended the Aviation Officer Basic Course at Fort Rucker, Alabama. He graduated flight school and proceeded to obtain an UH-60 qualification. His first assignment was platoon leader H Company 227th Aviation Regiment, 3rd Armor Division in Hanau, West Germany. Other positions held while stationed at Hanau were; Battalion Assistant S3, and Battalion Flight Operations Officer, 227th Avn Regt. After attending the Aviation Advance Course at Fort Rucker his next assignment was Battalion S1 for 123rd Avn Regt, 7th Infantry Division (Light) at Fort Ord, California. In 1991 he was selected as Commander of A Company 123rd Avn Regt, 7th ID (L) where he led operations during the Los Angles Riots, JRTC Rotation and a Presidential Flight Operation to South America. In 1992 he transitioned from active duty into the Individual Ready Reserve and in 1996 he joined the Aviation Brigade, 42d Infantry Division (MECH), New York Army National Guard. He has held the full-time Active Guard and Reserve positions of: Aviation Brigade Executive Officer; Brigade S3, Brigade S1, and Brigade Assistant S3. While with the 42d ID Aviation Brigade he participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) deployment 04-06 as the Aviation Brigade S3 and as was the Battalion Commander of 3-142nd when the unit deployed to Iraq in 2008. His new position will be Executive Officer of the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, which is based in Latham. His additional operations include; World Trade Center Disaster response, New Horizons- Honduras Deployment, and State emergencies. Ricci's awards include the: Bronze Star, 2 Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, 2 Army Commendation Medals, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, 2 National Defense Service Medals, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Humanitarian Service Medal. Ricci also holds the; Master Army Aviator Badge, Parachutist Badge and Air Assault Badge Ricci currently resides in Long Island, New York with his wife Diane and their daughter Kaelin and son AJ. He has five bothers and enjoys playing golf in his free time. 3rd of the 142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion: The 3-142 Assault Helicopter Battalion 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. 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. In 1968, the battalion received the OH-13 Sioux and OH-23 Raven helicopters and 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 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 mobilized to deploy to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. For this mission the battalion picked up a helicopter company from the Missouri Army National Guard. During it's year in Iraq, from August 2008 to the spring of 2009, the 3-142nd deployed to southern Iraq, took control of an AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter Company, and provided aviation support throughout the region as the headquarters of Task Force Jester, supporting the 10th Mountain Division. The unit's aircrews logged 15,000 hours of flying time, conducted 1,645 general support missions, moved 47,745 passengers and transported 500 tons of cargo during the 3-142nds 10 months in Iraq. Follow the New York Army National Guard on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube: FaceBook: Twitter: YouTube at


© NYS DMNA Press Release:New Commander For Army National Guard Assault Helicopter Battalion
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