FORT DRUM, N.Y. - As the first company of soldiers from the post's 10th Combat Aviation Brigade prepares to leave for a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan, the unit's leadership said the past year of training has made the soldiers ready for their Medevac mission.
In addition to multiple stops at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., and the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La., company soldiers were called in to help around the New York City area during Superstorm Sandy and have trained on a newer model of Black Hawk helicopter.
"To sum it up, they've been a little busy," said Maj. Christopher L. Logan, the company's commander.
The departure of the approximately 100 soldiers from C Company, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion was marked with a casing of its colors Friday morning in a hangar at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield.
The company will be assigned to RC-East, where it will provide support for combat operations. The mission also marks a change in mindset to have Afghan forces lead operations, with American soldiers in a support role.
Maj. Logan said that the new role and the coming drawdown in force levels next year have been discussed daily leading up to the deployment.
"This is going to be a different fight than we've ever experienced before," he said.
For soldiers like Chief Warrant Officer 4 Kenneth G. Brodhead, a senior medical helicopter pilot, the mission pulling out wounded soldiers and civilians is an exciting one.
"I can't wait to see what these soldiers will do, even though every time these people do their jobs, it's usually bad news," he said. "I look forward to them doing the mission. I just hope we don't do it a whole lot."
Chief Warrant Officer Brodhead, along with Chief Warrant Officer Erik Sabiston and Sgt. Julia A. Bringloe, received a Distinguished Flying Cross for their rescue work over the course of three days in June 2011.
Another crew member, Spc. David Capps, received an Air Medal with valor. Sgt. Bringloe also will return for the new deployment.
Chief Warrant Officer Brodhead called the award a symbol of the broader mission done by soldiers in his company.
He said the Medevac mission was one that required soldiers to be "spring-loaded" for action.
"The second the radio crackles, we're holding the radio, and we're moving," he said.
Chief Warrant Officer Brodhead said the deployment will be the last of his 26-year career.