On Nov. 8, 2021, more than 60 Soldiers from B. Company, 229th “Flying Tigers” Aviation Regiment, 2916th Aviation Battalion, 916th Support Brigade, made their way back to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., after spending nine-months deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
Landing at March Air Reserve Base, the Soldiers were greeted by both the NTC and 916th Support Brigade’s command teams, were treated to a warm meal from USO volunteers, and made their way home to the NTC.
As one of the only several deployable units at the NTC, B. Co. 229 executes world-class extended range intel collection, attack support and communication relays in support of the ground force commander.
Speaking to family members waiting for their Soldiers to arrive at Fort Irwin Col. LaHavie Brunson, Commander 916th Support Brigade, highlighted the work the Flying Tigers achieved during their deployment. During their deployment the Flying Tigers flew over 900 sorties, totaling 15,000 flying hours and utilized more than 29,000 maintenance man hours while keeping their fully mission capable rate over 90 percent.
“Their actions in cooperation with the Air Force led to the destruction of numerous enemy outposts and vehicles, and I have no doubt saved the lives of our fellow American Soldiers and our allies,” he said. “Their mission downrange was critical and undoubtedly a success which is a testament to how great these Soldiers are.”
As the Soldiers disembarked from the buses and marched in formation onto the Blue Track, they were greeted by cheering family members, as well as Soldiers and civilians from across the installation.
“We’ve all been waiting for this day for the past nine months”, Brunson said to the Soldiers in formation. “You’ve supported Operation Spartan Shield and Inherent Resolve and at the same time made significant accomplishments during a worldwide pandemic.”
As the unit was dismissed, friends and family members immediately rushed to the Blue Track to greet their Soldiers.
“It’s great to be back home,” said Cpl. Destiny Magana. “It’s been a long nine-months and we’ve accomplished a lot over there, I’m just happy to be back home with my family.”
For Magana’s mother, Denise Jackson, having her oldest daughter deployed was difficult. “It’s been hard for a mother knowing that your daughter is deployed,” she said. “I’m just so grateful of what she and her fellow Soldiers did deployed, and I’m so happy to have them back home.”
Lt. Col. Dan Morris, commander of the 2916th Aviation Battalion, also spoke highly of the work the Flying Tigers accomplished in the CENTCOM region. “We’re excited to have our Raptor family back home and together,” he said. “Their actions while deployed protected our freedoms and our American way of life. MAJ Talarico and 1SG Churchill did an outstanding job leading their team, and we’re excited for what is on the horizon for our Flying Tigers.”
While at the National Training Center the aviation regiment’s role is to replicate Division level assets for the Rotational Training Unit and the Opposing Force. They enable commanders to gather intelligence, drive decision making, and employ combat power at the decisive point in a battle.