US Army, July 06, 2019 - CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo by Capt. Darren Taylor — The latest rotation of Multi-National Battle Group–East (MNBG-E) Task Force Aviation concluded on June 2, when Lt. Col. Steven Todd, commander of Task Force Smokey, 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion, Tennessee Army National Guard, transferred the authority to Lt. Col. Christopher Buck, commander of Task Force Dragonmaster, 1-171st General Support Aviation Battalion, Georgia Army National Guard.
During this transfer of authority ceremony, Task Force Smokey’s colors were cased. This symbolized the end of the unit’s deployment.
“Our time here in Kosovo is at an end, and this task force performed with remarkable precision and professionalism…,” said Todd. “It is with tremendous pride that I am able to tell you that the officers, warrant officers and NCOs and enlisted members of Task Force Smokey are mission complete.”
Col. Roy Macaraeg, MNBG-E commander, presided over the ceremony and awarded Todd the Meritorious Service Medal, which signified completion of his mission in Kosovo.
“Lt. Col. Todd and Command Sgt. Maj. James Mclean, and the Soldiers of Task Force Smokey have done great things here throughout the rotation,” Macaraeg said. “They are true professionals with disciplined Soldiers who executed their mission with unparalleled passion and dedication.”
The ceremony included the transition between medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) units.
Todd shared, “Our MEDEVAC company from California performed eight real-world 9-line MEDEVAC missions providing care to those in need.”
The MNBG-E commander also added his deep appreciation to the outgoing MEDEVAC team’s dedication and overall contributions to the success of the mission.
Todd concluded with expressing his respect to his team, and he pointed out that their success in Kosovo was not achieved without sacrifice. He added, Soldiers endure these sacrifices out of a sense of duty to the U.S. and to each other.
“To all of the men and women of Task Force Smokey, thank you very much for your commitment to excellence, your professionalism and your willingness to serve,” said Todd. “I am immensely proud of what you’ve accomplished here.”
The incoming commander, Lt. Col. Buck, congratulated the outgoing commander and unit. He expressed his excitement as his team builds upon their hard work seeking to continue the long lasting peace in the region.
As the Soldiers of Task Force Smokey prepare to return home, Task Force Dragonmaster unfurled their colors to mark the beginning of their deployment and commencement of their KFOR (Kosovo Forces NATO) mission.