1-228th Aviation Regiment History
1-228th Aviation Regiment Conducts Aviation Operations Throughout USSOUTHCOM's Area of Responsibility. The purpose of the battalion is to promote and execute aviation operations to facilitate the CINC SOUTH's strategy of engagement and security in the theater. The battalion is capable of deploying and sustaining operations throughout the theater. Typical missions conducted by the battalion include: counter drug operations, disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, air movement of people equipment and supplies, Aero-medical evacuation, and limited search and rescue. The command structure of the battalion is capable of exercising command and control for Commander, US Army South of army aviation assets deployed to the theater. In addition to these operational missions, the battalion participates in selected special events and VIP support missions.
Since the Spring/Summer of 1999, when the Battalion reorganized and moved from Panama to Soto Cano Airbase, Honduras, the OPTEMPO has not slowed a bit. The stated intent was to maintain a forward deployed Battalion, and adjust the force structure based on a Total Army Analysis (TAA) review during the next TAA cycle. The 1-228th Winged Warriors are now fully engaged in Central America, and are daily players on the world stage. "If an Army helicopter fly's in Central America, more than likely it belongs to 1-228th Aviation Regiment."
Many of the "old timers" may remember the now deactivated Delta Company, 1-228th, and the 214th MEDEVAC Detachment. However, since our 1999 move, 1-228th has assumed the complete role of a Theater Aviation Battalion. The total force structure consists of a Headquarters & Headquarters Company (Phantoms); Alpha Company (Talons) with 10x UH-60A aircraft; Bravo Company (Sugarbears) with 4x CH-47D aircraft; and the U.S. Army Air Ambulance Detachment (Witchdoctors) with 4x UH-60A aircraft. The Battalion's Command & Control Detachment (Nomads) supports U.S. Army South at Ft. Buchanan, Puerto Rico, with 2x UH-60A (C2) aircraft.
As the only forward deployed aviation assets in Theater, the Battalion continues to set the standard while promoting and executing aviation operations which facilitate the CINC's Theater Engagement Strategy. Now TACON to Joint Task Force-Bravo, 1-228th remains pivotal in the execution of all "Central Skies" counter-narcotics missions, working with DEA and Host Nation Law Enforcement; Medical Readiness Training Exercises (MEDRETEs); Humanitarian Assistance; Disaster Relief; and "New Horizons" civil construction operations in the theater.
The Battalion was reorganized and re-designated 16 January 1990 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 228th Aviation, and activated in Honduras (organic elements concurrently constituted and activated)
The 4-228th Assault Helicopter Battalion was comprised of 6 companies. In addition to HHC, A and B companies, the Battalion had two FORSCOM rotational units, including CH47D "Chinook" helicopters and Medical Evacuation units. Its mission was to conduct Air Assault, Air Movement, Command and Control, Contingency Operations, MEDEVAC, Medical Readiness Training Exercises and to support US Military Groups in Central America.
On 2 January 1991, the initial Battalion Commander, LTC David H. Pickett and his crew were killed. Their helicopter, flying back from El Salvador, was shot down by hostile ground fire near Lolotique, El Salvador. The crew successfully auto rotated down the side of a hill after crossing a ridgeline and being ambushed by rebels . The aircraft crashed into a 4 foot boulder, and then rotated 185 degrees around it. CW4 Daniel Scott was killed instantly as his side of the aircraft struck the boulder, PFC Dawson was rendered unconscious by injuries sustained in the crash sequence, and LTC Pickett survived the impact and was remarkably conscious. Several local farmers were forced at gunpoint by the rebels to drag the crew out of the helicopter. LTC Pickett asked for some water. The rebels then directed the farmers to go get some water. After the farmers had crossed the ridge line of the hill, the rebels shot PFC Dawson once in the head and then Pickett with two bursts of automatic weapons fire. PFC Dawson was posthumously promoted to Specialist.
With the peace accords signed in January 1992 in El Salvador, the Battalion refocused its efforts on counter drug missions. Along with its support of JTF-Bravo, the 4-228th Attack Helicopter Battalion (AHB) initiated joint training exercises with the Honduran Army to support anti-guerrilla and counter drug operations. C Company, along with it's 8 CH-47D Chinook helicopters, was added in October 1994. Soon after, MEDEVAC transitioned to a permanent detachment with 3 UH-60A Blackhawk helicopters to replace the fleet of aging UH-1 Hueys. On 15 August 1995, with the fall of communism world wide, the 4-228th Assault Helicopter Battalion drew down.
On 11 August 1995, Company B was activated to replace the 4-228th AHB, continuing its tradition. It's name, B Company (-), 4-228th Aviation Regiment, is misleading because it is larger than most aviation companies. Company B assets included lift, aero medical evacuation; as well as intermediated maintenance, flight operations and a headquarters platoon for refueling, supply and motor pool. Assigned to Soto Cano Airbase, Honduras, Company B was attached 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, Fort Kobbe, Panama, for command and control purposes. Consecutively Company B was operationally controlled by the commander, JTF-Bravo.
In it's two-year history, Company B Eagles were very busy. Immediately upon activation, the company was deployed to El Salvador to participate in the recovery effort following the tragic Aviateca Airline crash that resulted in more than 60 deaths. Shortly following this operation, the Eagles deployed to Belize in support of the Commander-in-Chief SOUTHCOM's visit in preparation for exchange programs. In October 1995, the Eagles supported counter drug operations in Yoro, and a Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) on the Mosquito Coast, Honduras. The Fuersas Alidadas Peacekeeping mission in late 1995 and early 1996 kept all unit helicopters busy all over Honduras. From January to June Company B was kept busy with simultaneous missions in Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. These missions included Air Assaults, Engineer support Humanitarian Assistance, and Disaster Relief.
In April 1996, with the implementation of OP plan "Central Chance", Company B's mission increased to include air support to all Mil Groups and Embassy's in Central America. Operation "Clean Sweep" stared in summer 1996 with its monthly missions to Nicaragua and Costa Rica supporting the Organization of American States' De-mining efforts. On-going Helicopter Aerial Gunnery and MEDRETE's rounded out a busy initial year for the Eagles. In autumn 1996, with the draw down of U.S. Forces in Panama, the Eagles picked up the additional tasking of two Blackhawk crews and maintenance support for Operation "Safe Border", the Military Observers Mission to Ecuador and Peru (MOMEP). In November with Operation "Pelican" in Belize, Company B supported the British and Belize Defense Force as well as the US Army's 10th Mountain Division. Disaster Relief missions were flown to the San Pedro Sula area in Honduras, to help the flood victims. The year ended with another MEDRETE to Mocoron, Honduras.
On 23 June 1997, Company B was reflagged as Company D, 228th Aviation. The name changed but the mission remained the same. Company D continued with a high operation tempo and in October 1998 the entire Battalion was tasked with disaster relief following the destruction of Hurricane Mitch. Nearly 650 hours were flown by Company D and 180 hours flown by MEDEVAC during Hurricane Mitch disaster relief effort. 214th was exceptionally effective in countless rescues of individuals and families by hoisting them to safety from the torrents of water. Throughout the Central American disaster relief, the Battalion flew President Clinton, Former President Bush, Mrs. Clinton, Ambassadors and Senators throughout the devastated countries.
02 June 1999 the Battalion transferred 2 UH-60's and 2 CH-47's from Panama to Soto Cano Airbase, Honduras for the relocation of the Battalion headquarters. 04 June 1999 Company D retired its guidon and was absorbed into HHC and A Company. This completed the movement of the 1st Battalion, in total, to Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras.
1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment Staff remains involved with plans and operations that range from Humanitarian Assistance, to Counter Narcotics, to Joint/Combined Airborne Operations. 1-228th Avn executes too many short notice operations to name. The major planned operations of Fiscal Year 2001 were Tradewinds 01, Medical Readiness Exercise Training (MEDRETE) 12518, Joint/Combined Exercise Training (JCET) 401 and numerous Central Skies I missions.
Tradewinds 01 was a US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), Caribbean Partners and certain NATO allies joint/combined training exercise in Disaster Relief, Stability, and Maritime Operations to sustain regional cooperation and engagement. In addition the exercise enhanced participating nations' collective capabilities and it focused training exercises of Host Nation Contingency plans. 1-228th Avn's specific role was to support the 1-20th Special Forces Group (A) for their phase of Exercise Tradewinds 01.
12 April 2001, 1-228th Avn deployed Task Force Warrior consisting of 22 personnel, two A Company UH-60s and one US Army Air Ambulance Detachment (USAAAD) UH-60 by Strategic Air (STRATAIR) to Trinidad and Tobago. Upon arrival, TF Warrior quickly established operations at Piarco International Airport, Coast Guard Station and began training with 1-20th SFG. During the initial phase, MEDEVAC was the training priority; hence, training day one and two involved MEDEVAC simulation and A Company's UH-60s as back up to USAAAD's aircraft. The next phase involved required operational tasks of the 1-20th SFG for its Search and Rescue (SAR) mission.
Executing tasks supporting 1-20th SFG's SAR mission provided an excellent training opportunity for TF Warrior to execute its Mission Essential Task List (METL). The highlights of the training involved rappels, SPIES, HELOCASTs and hoist missions during day and night. On 3 May the successful exercise was indexed and recover/ redeployment began and by 5 May TF Warrior redeployed by STRATAIR to Soto Cano and continued recovery operations for follow on missions. During Exercise Tradewinds 01 TF Warrior flew 94.8-day hours, 2.0 night hours and 25.9 night vision goggle hours.
The next major planned operation was MEDRETE 12518 in Honduras Health Region 8 28 May to 5 June 2001. Due to the remote region, 1-228th Avn assets were essential for getting medical personnel to and from remote villages inaccessible by vehicle. In addition, because the exercise required the use of UH-60A helicopters with external fuel systems, this operation afforded maximum training for aircrews in aircraft power and fuel management.
28 May 01 TF Warrior deployed two UH-60s and one CH-47 with 12th Air Force and MEDEL medical personnel to Catacamas, National School of Agriculture. Upon arrival the CH-47 offloaded personnel and equipment and returned to Soto Cano Air Base while the remaining TF Warrior aircrews established an operations center. While deployed to region 8, TF Warrior aircrews flew 58.5 hours to 28 remote villages where medical personnel treated more than 5,000 Hondurans.
One of the more rewarding operations was in support of JCET 401. JCET 401 was a joint/combined training exercise of 7th Special Forces Group (SFG) and the Honduran 15th Infantry Battalion at Rio Clara, a small village in the vicinity of Trujillo. 1-228th aircraft deployed three times to support the 7th SFG for its specific mission, assisting the 15th INF BN for the training of a class of Commando Soldiers. 1-228th Avn deployed three UH-60s and one CH-47 (Fat Cow FARP) on 2 August to the 15th INF BN compound. There the Winged Warriors remained until 5 August executing numerous rappel, STABO, and air assault operations to include a HELOCAST with 7th SFG and Honduran Naval Special Naval Forces. The next deployment, 8 August, three UH-60s and a CH-47 flew to Rio Clara. The CH-47 dropped off two fuel blivets and a FARE system and returned to Soto Cano while A Company remained there to execute night air assaults. After the excellent NVG multi-ship training, A Company aircrews remained over night and returned to Soto Cano the next day. The final mission, the capstone, was 24 August when B Company deployed one CH-47 to Rio Clara for Airborne Operations early on 25 August. JCET 401 was excellent training for Winged Warrior aircrews and it greatly enhanced the relation of U.S. Forces with Honduran Ground and Naval Forces.
During fiscal year 2001, SOUTHCOM's counter-drug Execution Order moved into phase II. Phase II, so aptly named, are Central Skies II missions. Central Skies II missions are a Participating Nation's (PN) request for rapid response helicopter support for "emergent" narco-trafficking activities. To become a PN, such nation has had its Drug Law Enforcement Agents (DLEA) train with 1-228th Avn assets. Training is predicated on what the US Country Team (USCT) and HN DLEAs objectives are within their operating environment. For the most part Central Skies II training consisted of air assault/air movement type training in both day and night modes. However for Costa Rica, the initial train up and mission execution included Jacobs ladder (CH-47) and rappel/SPIES training (UH-60A) due to jungle mountainous terrain.
1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment has successfully accomplished a myriad of significant events during fiscal year 2000. The year began with our deployment to Maiquetia, Venezuela in response to flooding and mud slides which claimed the lives of more than 20,000 people. Almost immediately upon our return, the Winged Warriors skillfully executed a Strategic Deployment to Trinidad & Tobago for counter-drug operations, capturing millions of dollars of illegal narcotics destined for U.S. streets. The year ended with the Warriors strategically deployed once again, heading for the Caribbean nation of the Dominican Republic. This was a first-ever for 1-228th, as the Battalion itself conducting at night, over water, fully blacked-out, NVG Operations, searching for drug-running "Go Fast" boats laden with cocaine from Colombia.
First Quarter, FY-01, got off to a resounding start, with the 1-228th conducting an October 00 deployment to Belize in support of disaster assessment following Hurricane Keith. Almost immediately upon our return, the Battalion flawlessly executed its first-ever M-60D Aerial Door Gunnery in Honduras, allowing us to hone our war-fighting skills, and improving our Force Protection posture. Assigned to U.S. Army South, 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment's Winged Warriors continue to be ever-ready, fully mission capable, and able to respond to any situation or mission throughout US Army South's 12-million square mile Theater of Operations. The key to our success lies with our highly motivated, superbly trained personnel, who display an indomitable spirit, and "Can Do" attitude, toward mission success. Synchronous with the Battalion's motto: "One Team...One Fight", the Winged Warriors remain the guardians to Central and South America and the Caribbean!
On December 11, 2002 five soldiers from 1-228th were killed when a UH-60 crashed into a mountain 85 miles north of Tegucigalpa. The aircraft departed Sen Pedro Sula at 8;14 PM and crashed 20 minutes later. It was headed to the US base in Palmerola.