Last Black Hawks leave Giebelstadt for Fort Riley
The remaining UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters belonging to the 5th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment took off from Giebelstadt Army Airfield in Giebelstadt, Germany, for the final time March 30.
As part of the continuing Army base realignment and transformation process, the helicopters, along with around 100 5-158 soldiers, are on their way to Fort Riley, Kan.
“Everybody will be leaving Giebelstadt,” said Don Klinger, public affairs spokesman at nearby U.S. Army Garrison Würzburg. “[The airfield] is expected to return to the host nation in the fall.”
“Today we’re moving these aircraft to Coleman [Barracks Army Airfield in Mannheim, Germany],” said Lt. Col. Clay Hutmacher, 5-158 commander, on March 30. “This is the first step in our redeployment to Fort Riley.”
He added that the move was also a first step in the battalion’s preparation for deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, according to a 1st Infantry Division release.
After arrival at Coleman airfield, the helicopters were to be taken to port and shipped back to the U.S.
The 5-158 began its transformation in February and is expected to finish in July. Upon arrival in Kansas, the soldiers will fall under the 1st ID’s 2nd Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment and serve as the division’s general aviation support battalion. It will acquire 12 more Black Hawks and 12 CH-47 Chinook helicopters, 1st ID reported.
According to Hutmacher, transformation will make the battalion more relevant to supporting the Army’s ground forces and allow the unit to operate more independently.
According to the 1st ID, since fewer than 100 soldiers are moving stateside, the rest are slated to move to various units throughout Europe.
While the 5-158th is leaving Giebelstadt, the unit is not officially disbanding. It is set to serve as the general support aviation battalion for the 1st Armored Division in Katterbach, Germany.