By Lt. Col. Marty Pond
Task Force Ironhawk (Iraq)
Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs– April 21, 2011
Monday (April 18) I had the honor of accepting the John J. Stanko Army National Guard Aviation Unit of the Year on behalf of the outstanding Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment. But I didn’t earn the award — the men and women of the unit did, and I just want to take an opportunity to recognize them and all those who support us.
Task Force Ironhawk includes Soldiers and units from National Guard organizations in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Kansas and Colorado, and also from Fort Riley, Kan. In four months Task Force Ironhawk conducted nearly 2,000 combat missions and 15,000 combat hours. Soldiers in the 147th also became subject matter experts during mobilization training, logging more than 6,000 accident-free training hours.
Our dedicated Soldiers have worked tirelessly throughout mobilization training and continue to do so today across Iraq. They truly embody the “Big Red One” motto: No mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great. Their pride and honored service is second to none. Task Force Ironhawk was set up for success from the start because its Soldiers just happen to be some of the greatest Soldiers the U.S. has ever sent to war. They have earned this award, and no one can take that away from them.
Earning this award took the tremendous and unwavering support of the Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Colorado and Kansas Army National Guard commands, as well as the efforts of First Army throughout our mobilization training.
We could not have hoped for a more supportive team than the 1st Enhanced Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. Col. Frank Muth and his command gave us the freedom to execute the missions and the support we needed to succeed. I will always be grateful for his mentorship.
I would be remiss if I fail to extend heartfelt thanks to some real heroes — the families of our Soldiers. They have sacrificed at home as we have sacrificed overseas. Without the love and support our families have provided these past months, our Soldiers could not have achieved this level of success.
There are numerous individuals and organizations who supported our unit, including our Family Readiness Group, the American Legion, VFW, Camo Quilt Project, USO, Blue Star Mothers of Madison and others. I will be forever thankful for your support of our troops.
But our mission isn’t done yet. We have a few more flights to complete in Iraq, but we’ll be home soon. Until then keep us in your prayers and thanks for your continued support. Signing off from Iraq — we’ll see you soon.