More than 250 local National Guard soldiers are back home after serving in Kuwait and another 150 are scheduled home by Labor Day, according to a spokesman.
The members of the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade returned home to the Capital Region over the weekend. The brigade left last September and provided air support for U.S. military forces deployed in Kuwait.
The 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, based in Latham, is a headquarters element of 120 Soldiers who commanded an aviation task force of about 1,200 Active Army and Army National Guard aviation troops during their Kuwait deployment. The Soldiers had been serving in Kuwait since December.
"The most impressive characteristic of this deployment was the initiative and ingenuity displayed by the Soldiers of this organization," said Col. Albert Ricci, 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade Commander in his final published comments to the brigade before redeployment.
"We conducted deck landing operations with Navy and Coast Guard ships, to include embarking on the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier. We executed overwater gunnery, unique helicopter training with Marines and Special Forces refining our techniques and procedures."
"Our Soldiers gained a wealth of experience training and conducting genuine strategic operational missions within the North Arabian Gulf," Ricci said.
New York's aviation task force included 200 members of the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion (ASB), with Soldiers based on Long Island, Rochester, Olean and Dunkirk, NY along with 60 Soldiers from Company A, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation, also based in Latham, NY, flying ten UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.
The brigade also received 400 troops of the 3rd Battalion, 238th General Support Aviation Battalion, a Michigan National Guard aviation unit with some elements from the Delaware National Guard.
42nd Combat Aviation Brigade
The 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, a component of the Troy-based 42nd Infantry Division, provides command and control for Army Aviation units. The brigade is responsible for elements in 11 states. Components of the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade in New York include the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, based in Ronkonkoma and Latham, and the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion with elements in Ronkonkoma, Rochester, Dunkirk and Olean.
A General Support Aviation Battalion includes UH-60 helicopters configured as Air Ambulances for medical evacuation, UH-60 used in the command and control role to move key personnel around the country, and CH-47 heavy lift helicopters which can move up to 30 troops and large amounts of cargo.
In 2004/2005 the brigade mobilized with the 42nd Infantry Division and deployed to Tikrit, Iraq where it conducted combat missions in four Iraqi provinces with units from the Active Army, the California Army National Guard and the Army Reserve.
The brigade headquarters is based at the New York State Armory in Latham and since returning from Iraq has coordinated aviation efforts in support of emergency responses to Mohawk and Hudson River flooding and Tropical Storms Irene and Lee in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.