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It’s finally complete: The Army’s process of destroying esprit de corps was accomplished Sept. 30, 2009. If you don’t know, this was the wear-out date the Army set for aviation one-piece flight suits (tan and green), and the two-piece tan aircrew battle dress uniform (ABDU).

Although the other services continue to utilize the one-piece and two-piece flight suits, the Army has decided its years of service have been completed.

More important than the function of the one-piece flight suit is the fact an aviator can wear his or her wings earned on the flight suit. The process of becoming a pilot does not end with the 16 months of flight school (that’s for a UH-60, longer for other airframes). Every pilot and crew chief has an annual evaluation that encompasses everything from flying, aerodynamics, hydraulic systems, electrical systems, fuel, turbine engine, all the way to the anatomy of the eye, and altitude physiology.

You, being the rest of the Army that sits in the back, can rest assured the aircrew you are with are some of the most dedicated individuals in the Army. I know some people will read this and be upset (these are the same people who earn their Combat Action Badge while waiting in line for their iced coffee just because they saw the plume from a rocket). As a UH-60 pilot and platoon leader with the privilege of being around senior warrant officers and crew chiefs, whose sole mission in life is to support the ground forces commander, I will say it again: Pilots are the most dedicated individuals in the Army, and they deserve to be able to wear their flight suit with the wings they continue to earn well past graduation day from flight school.

First Lt. James AllenJoint Base Balad, Iraq

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