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Third-generation paratrooper takes command of Fort Bragg squadron

Lt. Col. Jonathan Tackaberry, the incoming commander of 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, salutes during a change of command ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C., May 4, 2017.

ADAN CAZAREZ/U.S. ARMY

By DREW BROOKS | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: May 5, 2017

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — The Tackaberry family are no strangers to Fort Bragg parade fields.

For three generations, members of the clan have stood on them, often in positions of honor or importance.

The late Lt. Gen. Thomas H. Tackaberry was a commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and, later, the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg. His son, retired Brig. Gen. Burt Tackaberry, served as assistant division commander for support.

On Thursday, the latest generation of the family took command of a Fort Bragg unit.

Lt. Col. Jonathan P. Tackaberry, son of Brig. Gen. Tackaberry, took the helm of the 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment during a ceremony on Stang Field, outside the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum.

The squadron is part of the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division. Earlier this year, the unit completed a deployment to South Korea, during which it served as the U.S. Army’s last OH-58D Kiowa Warrior squadron.

Now, with a transition ahead in which the squadron will take on new aircraft, it’s a family name in charge.

“My grandfather used to say, ‘It’s a great day to be a soldier. And an even better day to be a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division,’ ” the younger Tackaberry said. “As always, he was right.”

The eldest Tackaberry was a notable absence at the ceremony. Lt. Gen. Tackaberry died early last month. He was one of the nation’s most decorated soldiers, having been awarded three Distinguished Service Crosses, five Silver Stars, a Distinguished Flying Cross and a Soldier’s Medal, among many others.

But Brig. Gen. Tackaberry said his father knew the younger Tackaberry would be taking command within the 82nd Airborne. And he was incredibly proud that the family tradition would continue.

“Dad would have loved to have been here,” he said. “He’s absolutely looking down, proud.”

The Tackaberry family wasn’t the only multi-generational link between paratroopers on display at Stang Field.

The father of Lt. Col. Adam Frederick, the outgoing commander of the 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, is a retired colonel who also previously commanded a battalion within the 82nd Airborne Division.

“Thirty-two years ago I first came to this museum as a young kid,” Frederick said. But he never expected to be back as a commander.

The lieutenant colonel took command of the squadron roughly 30 months ago, officials said, shortly after the unit returned from a deployment in Afghanistan.

Col. Erik Gilbert, commander of the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, said Frederick immediately re-energized the squadron, training it up to exercise rapid deployment capabilities that hadn’t been tested or validated in more than a decade.

At the same time, the unit began preparation for the deployment to South Korea, training in remote locales and introducing the unit to over-water operations.

Before the deployment, the squadron set a world record for the largest helicopter formation. Like everything the unit did, Gilbert said flying over parts of Fort Bragg and Fayetteville was “well-planned, coordinated and superbly executed.”

In South Korea, the unit served as deterrence to North Korean aggression, Gilbert said. It also became the Army’s last Kiowa squadron as officials moved forward with retiring the aging helicopters.

“This historic final ride for Kiowa Warrior more than lived up to expectations,” he said. “The squadron proved that it was truly both the last and the best of the Army’s Kiowa Warrior squadrons.”

Gilbert thanked Frederick, adding that he would be missed, but would leave behind a strong legacy.

Frederick said any accolades belonged to his soldiers.

He said the unit set goals to be the best, no matter the task in front of them, and strived to honor the lineage of the cavalry and specifically the Kiowa Warrior community.

“Today I pray that I did justice for this remarkable organization and was the squadron commander that you all deserved,” he said.

The 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment is in the midst of its transition to a heavy attack reconnaissance squadron, Gilbert said.

The unit will receive its new helicopters, AH-64D Apaches, and new unmanned aerial vehicles, RQ-1 Shadows, later this year.

“Tack will certainly have his hands full,” Gilbert said.

The unit’s first eight Apaches will arrive in June. The rest — in all the unit will have 24 Apaches and 12 Shadows — will come in the the following months. And the unit also has been tasked with supporting the first unit-level Apache qualification course in the Army’s history as it builds up to deployable unit again.

The squadron will face new challenges and oppositions in that time, Gilbert said. But he said he believes Tackaberry — who comes to Fort Bragg from Hawaii where he served with U.S. Army Pacific — is ready.

“I wish you the very best for this squadron, and I know you’ll continue the incredible legacy of this organization,” the colonel said.

Lt. Col. Tackaberry thanked Gilbert for that trust.

He also praised his family for their support, pointing out that it was not just the Tackaberry men who served. He praised the four generations of Tackaberry women who have supported paratroopers and who attended the change of command.

The younger Tackaberry also isn’t the only member of the family currently in command.

Brig. Gen. Tackaberry said his other son, Lt. Col. Andrew Tackaberry, is commanding an artillery battalion in South Korea.

He said he gave both sons advice before they took command of their respective units.

“Actively take care of soldiers,” he said. “Commanders always say they care for soldiers, but you have to take care of them, too. Don’t be passive. Be active.”

dbrooks@fayobserver.com

©2017 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)
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