Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade held their Skystriker Week competition, Sept. 24 through 26.
Skystriker Week is a three-day competition intended to boost espirit-de-corps and unit camaraderie among the Soldiers of the Skystriker Battalion. The week opened with Lt. Col. Richard Harrison, 3rd Bn., 4th ADAR battalion commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Paris Williams, 3rd Bn. 4th ADAR command sergeant major, honoring past and current Skystrikers.
A celebration of the 200th anniversary of 3rd Bn., 4th ADAR and the 40th year anniversary of the battalion’s presence on Fort Bragg was also included in the battalion’s commemoration ceremony. Another significant part of Skystriker Week included various staff members of the battalion relaying the unit’s history to its Soldiers. Each day, a decade of the battalion history, starting from 1972 to 2012 was shared with the Soldiers.
Retired Chief Warrant Officer James Locklear, 108th ADA Bde. simulation facility manager, spoke about his connection to 3rd Bn., 4th ADAR and the importance of the event.
“The great Skystrikers have a history of over 200 years in defense of this country. They were once acknowledged as one of the most decorative battalions in the 82nd Airborne. Having performed as both a short-range air defender and Patriot technical subject matter expert; it’s a privilege for me to represent the battalion as their honorary warrant officer. This role allows me to continue a mentorship program, share my experience and express my Skystriker technical pride in the area of training toward future missions,” said Locklear.
Soldiers of the battalion enthusiastically engaged in the various events for the week.
Pfc. Lance Pastrana, 3rd Bn., 4th ADAR, Headquarters and Headquarters Bn. Patriot fire control enhanced operator/maintainer, said he enjoyed the week’s activities.
“I thought the events were very good and equally competitive across the board which brought up the morale of the battalion. It brings people closer together.Unit cohesion, I think that’s what part of being in the Army is all about,” said Pastrana.
Battery E was the overall winner of the competitive week winning eight of the 12 battery events and was awarded the Command Sgt. Maj. James D. Blankenbecler Cup.
The Command Sgt. Maj. James D. Blankenbecler Cup is named in honor of Blankenbecler, the highest-ranking air defense noncommissioned officer killed in combat operations. At the time of his death in 2003, Blankenbecler served as the senior enlisted advisor for 1st Bn., 44th ADAR in Iraq.
“It was great taking part in Skystriker Week,” said Woods. “I think it’s really important that Soldiers of all ranks know the heritage of the unit; that we know its history when we wear the unit patch and pin on the insignia because a lot great leaders have come from this unit and will continue to do so.”