Aviators from 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade received 81 individual awards and a unit plaque from Bell Helicopter at the brigade headquarters, March 28.
Bell, who manufactures the OH-58 D Kiowa Warrior helicopters flown by the pilots of 1st Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry Regiment, awarded the company’s pipe tomahawk pins and plaque to the Saber Squadron in recognition of individual and overall unit combat-flying hours.
Mike Simmons, a military business development manager for Bell, who presented the awards, said the pipe tomahawk is very symbolic, with the ax representing the warrior spirit and the pipe signifying peace.
“There is no doubt that during your squadron’s deployment, both ends of the pipe tomahawk were utilized,” Simmons said. “We at Bell Helicopter are proud to present the Pipe Tomahawk plaque and pin as a tangible symbol of the Kiowa Warrior Spirit that you have honed in both peace and combat operations.”
During the past 10 years, 1st Sqdn., 17th Cav. has deployed five times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. From the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, Saber pilots have flown more than 115,000 combat hours in their Kiowas.
For 1st Sqdn., 17th Cav. Commander Lt. Col. Richard Zampelli, the plaque also represents additional hours spent by the Saber troops who support the pilots and aircraft.
“While this award recognizes the individual contribution of every aviator who has employed the OH-58D during combat operations, its significance extends beyond that of the individual aviator. Without the leadership, professionalism, and technical and tactical confidence of all the technical warrants, noncommissioned officers and junior enlisted troopers in the squadron, none of the 115,000 flight hours would have been possible,” Zampelli said.