Soldiers from Florida’s B Company, 2nd Battalion, 151st Aviation (Security and Support) returned to Cecil Field in Jacksonville recently after a 30-day rotation in Haiti in support of “Operation New Horizons 2011.”
Six crewmembers from the unit deployed with two UH-72A Lakota helicopters to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in late April, and were joined by an additional six personnel who deployed via C-130 airlift with the unit’s equipment two days later. While in Haiti, the company was assigned to Task Force Bon Voizen, a multi-state/multi-national brigade-level Engineer Task Force led by units from the Louisiana National Guard, conducting humanitarian assistance and training missions there.
The Florida Army National Guard unit returned to Florida on May 27.
This was B Company’s first overseas deployment, and an opportunity to validate numerous aspects of the unit, including its mission, mission essential task list, doctrine, and especially the new Lakota helicopters, all in a relatively austere, real-world environment. While in Haiti, unit personnel conducted numerous types of aviation missions, including air movement of passengers and cargo, command and control operations, reconnaissance operations, personnel recovery training exercises, and hoist training exercises. These missions included the execution of more than 180 flight hours and 140 aircraft sorties, and the movement of more than 240 passengers and 5,000 pounds of cargo, all in just 30 short days.
The unit’s mission also included a first-ever demanding overwater deployment and re-deployment of nearly 2,000 miles through south Florida, the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos, before finally arriving at Port-au-Prince International Airport and eventually Forward Operating Base Mandrin. The 1-111th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion) staff provided extensive support as the unit prepared for the mission, and aircraft and crewmembers from Florida’s C-12 and C-23 detachments also supported the unit with several personnel and equipment transportation airlifts to and from Haiti during its rotation there. Given only six weeks’ notice and an extensive list of pre-deployment training and preparation requirements, unit personnel pulled together and demonstrated the teamwork, dedication, and professionalism Florida’s aviation units are known for, making the mission a resounding success.
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