After one year, flying more than 175,000 record-breaking hours during a third deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade has officially come home to Fort Bragg.
The brigade colors and more than 200 troops, including 82nd CAB Commander Col. T.J. Jamison and 82nd CAB Command Sgt. Maj. Larry D. Farmer, arrived at Pope Field, Sept. 19.
“The Family members are very, very excited. It’s a great thing for them to have their Soldiers home,” said Jamison.
Among the crowd of cheering Family and friends greeting the redeploying troops were Amber Hardin and her 6-year-old daughter, Kennedy. The Hardins welcomed husband and father, Chief Warrant Officer Jordan Hardin, an OH-58D Kiowa pilot.
“I was so excited and anxious, but the wait was definitely worth it,” Amber said. “I am so proud of Jordan. It’s great to have him back home with our daughter.”
Amber has every reason to be proud of her husband and his brigade.
Deployed to eastern Afghanistan as Task Force Pegasus, the brigade provided a constant aviation presence on the battlefield and immediate aviation support to all ground commanders within Regional Command - East. The pilots of the 82nd CAB flew more hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom than any brigade since the beginning of OEF.
“By flying those hours, the more important result than breaking records is how many American lives we saved and brought home, and how many insurgents we removed from the battlefield,” said Jamison.
With their fleet of OH-58D Kiowa, AH-64 Apache Longbow, CH-47 Chinook, UH-60 Blackhawk and HH-60M Medevac helicopters, Pegasus troops completed more than 2,500 Medevac missions, killed more than 1,000 insurgents and provided essential transportation to troops in Regional Command - East and in Kabul province.
Jamison said his brigade’s success is due, in large part, to the 82nd CAB Soldiers who don’t fly the aircraft.
“Without good maintenance, the constant aviation presence is really just a fantasy – you can’t do it,” Jamison said.
Always looking ahead, the commander is counting on the diligence and perseverance these maintenance crews and pilots showed during the deployment to carry Pegasus troops through a successful block leave with their Families.
“I’ve told everybody in the brigade that this rotation is not over until Nov. 1 when we come back from block leave,” Jamison said. “I don’t want anybody to get hurt. We’ve had too great a rotation for anybody to get hurt or have any preventable accident during their leave.”