US Army, June 09, 2016 - WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii by Staff Sgt Chris Hubenthal - The 25th Combat Aviation Brigade added 24 advanced multi-role combat helicopters in the form of the AH-64D Apache to its arsenal this past April and celebrated the new capability here June 9.
The ceremony provided a formal way to welcome the aircraft’s arrival and celebrate the historical event.
“The purpose of the ceremony is really to recognize two years of work and the unbelievable amount of people that have been making such a day-to-day effort to bring this to fruition,” said Lt. Col. Aaron Martin, Commander of 2nd Squadron, 6th Battalion.
Martin said that the ceremony also provided the opportunity to recognize all the hard work done by those involved in getting the Apaches here.
“The Hawaiian local government that has allowed the Apaches to come here to be flying throughout that air space, to the Army aviation branch that has gone and prioritized this squadron in the Pacific to get these, the turning in of the Kiowa Warrior, U.S. Army Pacific’s effort to coordinate all that across not only the National Guard, the Army branch itself,” Martin said. “Within the PACOM Theater of operations this is an added capability we are bringing not only to this island but the entire Pacific region.”
The addition of the high performance aircraft replaced the OH-58 Kiowa Warriors that were recently retired. The new Apaches are planned to be paired with Shadow unmanned aerial vehicles to create an attack and reconnaissance role.
U.S. Army Capt. Marisa Yarmie, Bravo Troop Company commander, 2nd Squadron, 6th Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, said that the addition of the Apache will increase mission effectiveness.
“I think the Apache is an aircraft that really tends to lead us toward interoperability not just with the forces on the ground though that is our main mission,” Yarmie said. “I think that with the technology that we have to link in with the unmanned aerial systems… that is something that will really help to increase our reach in the region as well as assist us in working with our joint partners in the Navy, Marines, and Air Force and as well as working with our multinational partners.”
At the end of the ceremony, military leadership including General Robert Brown, Commander of U.S. Army Pacific, Lt. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, Deputy Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, and Maj. Gen. Charles Flynn, Commander of the 25th Infantry Division, participated in a Hawaiian blessing for the new Apaches.
Brown also recognized the capability that the Apache brings to the mission but emphasized what he believes is the most important part of the Army’s arsenal.
“It’s not just the aircraft, but of course you look at [the Apache] and you can’t help but be impressed by the machine,” Brown said. “The Army’s advantage is the people and it’s those pilots in that aircraft. We provide them with the best equipment in the world, the best training in the world, but it’s the people that are our advantage.”