The first two waves of returning Soldiers from the West Bend, Wisconsin-based 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation are now back safely in the United States after a seven-month mobilization to Kuwait.
More than half of the unit returned to Fort Hood, Texas, Dec. 12-14, with the remainder to return at a later date yet to be determined.
“We’re extremely proud of what these Soldiers accomplished during their deployment,” Brig. Gen. Ken Koon, the Wisconsin National Guard’s assistant adjutant general for readiness and training said. “True to form, our Guardsmen demonstrated once again why our nation calls on the National Guard as its primary combat reserve. When the Army has a critical mission, they know they can count on the men and women of the Wisconsin Army National Guard.”
Koon and other senior leaders from the Wisconsin National Guard, including Brig. Gen. Mark Michie, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s land component commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Shields, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s senior enlisted advisor, travelled to Fort Hood to welcome the unit off the plane.
“It was a long couple days of travel for these Soldiers,” Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Shields, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s senior enlisted advisor, said. “But they were in good spirits and are looking forward to getting home to Wisconsin.”
The unit, made up of approximately 30 Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation, mobilized for deployment in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Spartan Shield in May. After arriving in Kuwait, the air medevac unit provided medevac assets and maintenance support for American personnel operating in the region. The unit flies UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, which it used to provide aeromedical evacuations and in-flight care from the point of injury to a medical treatment facility.
Ultimately the unit accrued more than 1,200 flight hours during their deployment and responded to 14 medevac missions. It also supported ground maintenance efforts in Kuwait and Iraq and trained hundreds of service members on aeromedical evacuation operations.
Military operations in the Middle East continue despite troop drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan. As part of the nation’s primary combat reserve, the returning 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Soldiers are an example of the critical role Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers and Airmen continue to play in global military operations. The Milwaukee-based 128th Air Refueling Wing remains deployed supporting air refueling operations over the Middle East, while Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers with Detachment 1, Headquarters, 101st Airborne Division Multi-Component Unit prepare to deploy to the Middle East in early 2016.
The 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation previously deployed to Iraq in 2010 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. The Soldiers will return to Wisconsin after completing demobilization requirements at Fort Hood.
Senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders and elected representatives will formally commemorate the unit’s homecoming at a date and time to be determined.