Hawaii Army National Guard Unit Receives Army Aviation Unit of The Year Award.

Posted on Apr 14, 2015 in FY2015, In The News, Pupukahi

The Hawaii Army National Guard’s Company B, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment, known as “the Voyagers” were recently recognized as the Army National Guard Aviation Unit of the Year by the Army Aviation Association of America for 2014.

B/171st’s Commander, Maj. Byron Cadiz, and its Senior Noncommissioned Officer, 1st Sgt. Keith I. Nakahara  were invited to receive the award during a ceremony during the Army Aviation Association of America’s annual summit that was held at Nashville, Tennessee’s Gaylord Opryland Hotel  and Convention Center at the end of March.

The unit, which operates the CH-47F Chinook, is being recognized for its service during 2014 which included a nine-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Their 2014 deployment came just 19 months after its last deployment, which is far short of the normal four year break. While preparing for the upcoming deployment, the aircrew broke down and packaged all 12 of their assigned helicopters for surface transport to Texas in only two days. Pre-mobilization training was thorough and effective. The unit completed over 90% of required First Army post-mobilization green training while still at its home station.  Likewise, the Voyagers completed the remainder of its post-mobilization requirements at Fort Hood with no issue.  Twelve of the required twelve combat crews were fully-mission-qualified prior to deployment.  The unit then deployed 122 combat-ready soldiers to Afghanistan.

The Voyagers’ primary mission was to provide medium lift capabilities in support of U.S., NATO, and Afghan conventional and non-conventional forces. Spread across three regional commands and separated in as many as six forward operating bases (FOB) at one time, the Voyagers executed a myriad of combat missions to include battlefield circulation, FOB retrogrades, combat resupply, and insertion/extraction of Special Operation Forces.

B-171’s missions in-country were largely conducted at night in the most challenging desert and mountainous environments,  and under constant threat of Taliban ground fire.  Company B was often requested by name for supporting the most complex deliberate operations. Their Fully-Mission-Capable rate was an impressive 84%, well above the Department of the Army and brigade standards. During its nine-month deployment, B/1-171st Avn. flew nearly 1,300 combat missions, logged over 4,200 flight hours, moved over 26,000 Soldiers and detainees, hauled nearly three million pounds of cargo, executed 26,000 aircraft maintenance man-hours, fueled 13,000 aircraft, and dispensed over three million gallons of aviation fuel.

“I am truly honored and humbled to be part of a unit that received such a prestigious award.  Each and every one of my soldiers performed exceptionally in support of their State and Country.  If you asked anyone of my soldiers what we did to deserve this award, most of them would say “We just did our job, and we did it right. I was truly blessed to be given the opportunity to command and serve with the best unit and soldiers in the military.  They along with their families scarified a lot during our deployment and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their hard work, dedication, and selfless service.  It was truly an honor to be part of such an amazing group of people.  We will always be part of history and I am extremely honored to call all of them, friends for life.  Stated  B-171st’s Commander, Maj. Byron Cadiz.

The Voyagers returned home without any casualties while in theater, and completed all demobilization and re-integration tasks with no major Soldier or family issues. These are just some of the reasons that the unit was honored as the 2014 Army Aviation Association of America John J. Stanko ARNG Aviation Unit of the Year.