Aviation brigade holds activation ceremony

July 2, 2013 Updated: July 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm

A Tuesday activation ceremony for Fort Carson's 4th Combat Aviation Brigade was more of a formality than anything.

Soldiers of the brigade's 2-4 General Support Battalion were in action last month, performing an aerial assault on the Black Forest fire within hours of ignition by dropping hundreds of thousands of gallons of water on it.

"The fact that they could do that, that fast is just incredible," said brigade commander Col. Robert Ault on Tuesday after morning festivities at the post's Founders Field. "It proves our commitment to the community."

The ceremony - which featured the post's mounted color guard and the 4th Infantry Division Band - heralded the beginning of operations for the brigade.

The brigade will provide Fort Carson and the 4th Infantry Division with "unprecedented combat power and flexibility" via an array of aviation operations such as air assault, general lift support, attack and reconnaissance, and medical evacuation, said Ault, who assumed command of the brigade during the ceremony.

Ault previously served as the deputy director of Army Aviation for U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Command Sgt. Maj. Antoine J. Duchatelier, Jr., assumed responsibility as the brigade's command sergeant major during the ceremony.

He previously served as the command sergeant major of the 122nd Aviation Support Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, at Fort Bragg.

The brigade is rebuilding itself from the ground up, according to post officials.

Though it's comprised of 1,300 soldiers, that number will more than double by late 2014, when it reaches full strength.

A majority of those soldiers will be in place by April, Ault said.

When fully activated, the brigade will boast 113 helicopters, 48 of which will be AH-64 Apaches. Fifty-three will be UH-60 Black Hawks, 15 of which will be specially fitted for medical evacuation missions.

The rest will be CH-47 Chinooks, twin-rotor helicopters that specialize in carrying troops or transporting supplies across a battlefield.

The brigade's 2-4 General Support Battalion had been activated before Tuesday's ceremony.

Two attack reconnaissance battalions, an assault helicopter battalion and an aviation support battalion have yet to be activated.

The brigade is no stranger to Fort Carson. Its predecessor was activated at Fort Carson in November 1972 but relocated to Fort Hood, Texas, in 1995, where it was deactivated in September 2011.

Tuesday marked the first reactivation of the brigade since that time.

"We're glad to finally be home," Ault said of the brigade at Tuesday's ceremony.

The brigade, known as the "iron eagles," was first activated at Fort Lewis, Washington, in 1957. It was then known as the 4th Infantry Division's 4th Aviation Company.

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