More than 200 Soldiers of the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade returned to the United States this weekend to begin demobilization tasks at Fort Hood, Texas.
The group is the first half of New Yorkers to return stateside following the successful completion of the unit's mission in Kuwait.
The brigade departed New York in September of 2013 to provide aviation support for U.S. military forces deployed in Kuwait.
The 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade is a headquarters element of 120 Soldiers who commanded an aviation task force of about 1,200 Active Army and Army National Guard aviation troops during their Kuwait deployment.
New York's additional piece of the mission included 60 Soldiers from Company A, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation, based in Latham, N.Y., flying ten helicopters and another 200 members of the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion, with Soldiers based on Long Island, Rochester, Olean and Dunkirk, N.Y.
The Soldiers had been serving in Kuwait since December.
The 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade also led some 400 Soldiers of the Army's 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, an Attack Reconnaissance Battalion based at Fort Hood which flies the AH-64 D Apache "Longbow" attack helicopter.
The brigade also received 400 troops of the 3rd Battalion, 238th General Support Aviation Battalion, a Michigan National Guard aviation unit with some elements from the Delaware National Guard.
"The most impressive characteristic of this deployment was the initiative and ingenuity displayed by the Soldiers of this organization," said Col. Albert Ricci, 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade Commander in his final published comments to the brigade before redeployment.
"A few examples of these extraordinary accomplishments were the expeditionary bilateral aviation training exercises to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, the 42nd CAB participated in multilateral exercises with Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar," he said.
"We conducted deck landing operations with Navy and Coast Guard ships, to include embarking on the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier. We executed overwater gunnery, unique helicopter training with Marines and Special Forces refining our techniques and procedures."
"Our Soldiers gained a wealth of experience training and conducting genuine strategic operational missions within the North Arabian Gulf," Ricci said.
These Soldiers are expected back in New York or their home state over the next ten to fourteen days while the brigade will complete its second return of troops from Kuwait in another week.
The 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, a component of the Troy-based 42nd Infantry Division, provides command and control for Army Aviation units. The brigade is responsible for elements in 11 states. Components of the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade in New York include the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, based in Ronkonkoma and Latham, and the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion with elements in Ronkonkoma, Rochester, Dunkirk and Olean.
A General Support Aviation Battalion includes UH-60 helicopters configured as Air Ambulances for medical evacuation, UH-60 used in the command and control role to move key personnel around the country, and CH-47 heavy lift helicopters which can move up to 30 troops and large amounts of cargo.
The 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade traces its history back to the formation of an aviation detachment of small L-19 "Bird Dog" planes organized in 1947 to provide artillery fire direction support and command liaison support for the 42nd Infantry Division.
In 2004/2005 the brigade mobilized with the 42nd Infantry Division and deployed to Tikrit, Iraq where it conducted combat missions in four Iraqi provinces with units from the Active Army, the California Army National Guard and the Army Reserve.
The brigade is based at the New York State Armory in Latham and since returning from Iraq has coordinated aviation efforts in support of emergency responses to Mohawk and Hudson River flooding and Tropical Storms Irene and Lee in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.