Story and photo by Sgt. Jonathan C. Thibault
4th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Roaring booms of powerful helicopter engines announced the arrival of the first 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters at Butts Army Airfield, Jan. 20.
In addition to the three Black Hawks, the unit’s first three CH-47 Chinook helicopters arrived Jan. 22. The 4th CAB currently has six of each aircraft and are expecting to have more than 100 helicopters when fully operational.
Capt. Joshua Meyer, commander, Company A, 2nd Battalion (General Support), 4th Avn. Reg., 4th CAB, coordinated getting the helicopters to Fort Carson. He and his Soldiers worked through the weekend to make sure there was a smooth transition when the helicopters arrived.
“It’s a big deal for us because it marks the arrival of the CAB here at Fort Carson,” said Meyer. “A lot of people from the company, battalion and brigade have been working hard for the last six months. It means a lot to the Soldiers because they’re going to be working on and flying (the helicopters). They have been very busy working to meet the requirements so that these aircraft can arrive; establishing and validating our systems and procedures for maintenance and flight operations. We are looking forward to flying them and maintaining them at the company level.”
With the new helicopters, the brigade can start working toward full activation and completing its mission to provide attack aviation, air assault, heavy lift and medical evacuation aviation operations in support of 4th Inf. Div. and other division-sized units, said Maj. Jason S. Davis, brigade executive officer and acting brigade commander, 4th CAB.
The 4th CAB consisted of only 50 Soldiers when Davis arrived in June and now has more than 970 Soldiers. He said the brigade is projected to be completely manned and activated, including subordinate units, in April 2014.
“We are ahead of schedule in a lot of areas, and areas that we face challenges in are going to be areas that any unit faces in the Army today, with funding and facilities,” said Davis. “I am really pleased with the progress we’ve made.
“We’ve gotten a great number of people in … (who are) ready to work and they dive into whatever their task is,” he said. “They start building the systems and processes that we need.”
In addition to the arrival of new Soldiers, aircraft and equipment, training for the brigade is vital to becoming mission ready.
Upcoming preparation includes basic Soldier training, such as weapons qualification, Soldier tasks and drills and other skills that troops need to be proficient at, said Maj. George A. Hodges, operations officer, 4th CAB, 4th ID.
To house the brigade’s equipment and Soldiers, new structures are being built at Butts Army Airfield. The Directorate of Public Works is working to get the CAB’s building contracts approved and built. The biggest of the CAB’s construction projects is a complete renovation of Butts Army Airfield.
The CAB is getting five hangars, a new brigade headquarters building, runway and apron, control tower and barracks, said Maj. Eli Adams, an Omaha District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager at Fort Carson. He said there are currently nine authorized projects out of 27 proposed construction projects. All projects are expected to be complete by 2020.
Adams said the structure that stands out most to him is the first hangar to be completed for the Aviation Support Battalion. Most of the projects are proposed to be net zero developments.
“The need is there to rebuild that airfield,” said Adams. “The facilities that we provide will be top quality and will be a great contribution to Fort Carson. Our teams of engineers, who are working with the contractors, are highly professional. The CAB has a lot to look forward to with the facilities that they are going to get and when they see the work completed, it will be a transformed Butts Army Airfield.”
4th CAB Soldiers worked quickly to get their first helicopters into the hangar and are continuing to work on them to make sure all preventive maintenance, checks and services are done, so they can be ready to train and perform missions.