Story and photo by Spc. Nathan Thome
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
A blue guidon, which was sheathed for two years, was unfurled in front of Soldiers and their Families during the activation ceremony for 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, at the Special Events Center, April 3.
During the ceremony, Lt. Col. Tyler Smith, commander, 2nd GSAB., 4th Avn. Reg., 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, and Command Sgt. Maj. Rickey Davis, senior enlisted leader, 2nd GSAB, assumed command and responsibility of the troops in the newly-reactivated unit.
“Today is a historic day for the division’s combat aviation brigade. It’s one step closer to being a fully-formed and recognized unit,” said Brig. Gen. Ryan Gonsalves, deputy commanding general for maneuver, 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson. “Many here today may not know that the 4th Inf. Div. CAB has a storied history, particularly recently, flying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as Operation Enduring Freedom; defending the nation and supporting every mission they were called on to execute.”
After uncasing the battalion colors, Gonsalves presented the flag to Smith, recognizing him as the newest leader to assume command of the aviation Soldiers.
“Family and friends of the ‘Mustangs,’ it is with great humility and honor that we activate the 2nd (GSAB), 4th Avn. Reg., whose historic roots are no stranger to the ‘Iron Horse Division,’” said Smith. “This battalion has been activated within this division on three previous occasions; initially in 1963, again in 1982 and 1996; today marks that fourth activation, and represents the rebirth of that long and storied relationship.”
The activation ceremony not only marked a new beginning for the aviation Soldiers, but also reignited the spark for retired Soldiers previously assigned to the unit.
“While the people and equipment have changed, the mission remains the same,” Smith said. “This ceremony honors not only the skilled Soldiers and leaders that stand before you, but honors a legacy to the tradition of Army aviation. Today we have a representative for that legacy, (retired) Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tim Wilkerson, also known as ‘Blackjack 17’ during his time in Vietnam, in Company A, 2nd Bn., 4th Avn. Reg., (in) 1968-1969.
“We’re proud that he was able to be here today, for he represents not only the historic roots of this battalion, its first combat action, but also the legacy of aviation branch,” added Smith. “It is men like Tim Wilkerson who earned the ground forces’ trust, not through word, but through action. We are proud of his legacy, built by combat-proven warriors, and it is with full resolve that this organization stands ready to honor that warrior spirit.”
Unit officials invited Wilkerson to be a part of the activation ceremony.
“It’s a tremendous honor, the reception here is just beyond belief,” said Wilkerson. “I’m just so proud of you guys, proud of what you’re doing, and I’m proud to see us continuing, that’s what we’re here for.”
Wilkerson spoke with the aviation Soldiers, telling them stories of when he was an aviation Soldier and wishing them luck in their missions.
“Just keep doing what you’re doing, keep the pride in the unit and what you do,” Wilkerson said.
As the ceremony came to a close, Smith told his Soldiers what he planned to accomplish during his time in command.
“I’m privileged and honored to be standing up this unit, the Soldiers who have been here for 15 months standing it up have done a fantastic job of setting the groundwork,” said Smith. “This organization is a trained organization that’s ready to go out and support the Soldiers of 4th Inf. Div. My goals for the unit are simply to be prepared to deploy to combat, and train so that we are ready to deploy where needed by the 4th Inf. Div.”