US Army, January 20, 2015 - WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, HAWAII by Staff Sgt Tramel S Garrett - It was a bittersweet day for the Soldiers of the 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, with the casing of the unit colors in preparation for an operational deployment to the Korea peninsula and a final flight of the Kiowa Warrior helicopters, Jan. 15.
"The Kiowa Warrior has called this island home for the past 17 years. [Now the aircraft] will be shipped back to Texas and retired from our active fleet," said Lt. Col. Aaron Martin, 2-6 Cavalry commander. "Some may view this as a sad event. I will tell you we're only just approaching the end of another chapter in the great history of the 2nd Squadron."
Eighteen Kiowa Warrior helicopters departed for a final flight around the island, a commemoration for all the aviators of the past and present.
Chief Warrant Officer Three James Mason wanted to be a part of something special for Hawaii and to also give senior aviators the chance to take one final flight before the retiring the Kiowa Warriors helicopters from the active fleet.
"This was a very important event to be a part of," Mason said. "I feel fortunate that I was able to plan and participate in the process. The Kiowa is a wonderful aircraft that has given many years to the Army. It was a workhorse and continually came through day after day, year after year, and mission after mission."
These aircraft were used for observation, utility and fire support dating back to the Vietnam era. In addition, Kiowa aircraft have been instrumental in saving lives on the battlefield despite its small size during overseas contingencies operations.
Some of the Soldiers hated to see the retiring of this historic aircraft but accepted the challenge of writing a new chapter in the history of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.
"Through everyone's hard work, we can stand here today and say we are ready to deploy and truly execute our mission," Martin said. "The ink is always wet on our history and you are truly the ones holding the pen."
The cavalry will have the vital task of assisting the local forces and South Korea to discourage aggression on the peninsula, while attached to Eighth Army.
"Our history of horses, motorcycles, trucks, tanks and helicopters has shown us the true success of the cavalry is not based upon the steeds we ride but the bold cavalry men who always remained out front of the formation," Martin said.