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Photo Gallery | 185th Aviation Regiment returns 59 from Iraq

Second wave of Soldiers from Camp Robinson Aviation unit returns to U.S.

GULFPORT, Miss. – After receiving 21 Soldiers home from Iraq last week, another 59 members of the Arkansas National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 185th Aviation Regiment of the 77th Aviation Brigade touched down on U.S. soil just before noon Sunday.

The Soldiers, who had originally departed Arkansas on Nov. 29, 2010, are the second wave of several coming home in time for the holidays.  Nearly 300 more Arkansas Guard troops from various units are slated to return home over the next few weeks.

The 185th returns after serving nine months of service based at Camp Spyker, Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn.

“We supported the U.S. Division – North,” said Capt. Stephen Brack, commander of the 185th’s Charlie Company – one of two companies returning today. “We had around 10,000 combat flight hours in between the two companies, probably 800 to 900 missions.”

Serving directly under the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade, Brack said the unit185th’s missions ranged from a quick reaction force and complex missions to basic troop and VIP movement.

“We also supported the Special Operations Forces with the time sensitive target missions,” said Capt. Samuel Baker, commander of the 185th’s Bravo Company.  “We accomplished about 30 air assault missions.  It was very good for us to accomplish working with Iraqi Forces, of course, the U.S. Special Operations Forces and Navy Seals.”

“We’re pretty proud of that,” Baker said of the 185th, which is specifically designated for an air assault mission.  “It’s something that we’ve been training many years to do and we were able to actually do it in a combat environment.”

Baker added that the training last year included a great opportunity to train with the Navy Seals for that specific mission prior to ever having left the state of Arkansas.

“As far as the training that we did in the state prior to mobilizing, working with the Navy Seals set us up for extreme success in the actual combat environment,” said Baker.  “We did the same type of missions in Iraq, fast roping, air assault, coordinating between the Air Force, the Navy, all the different aspects there that we got to do training stateside with the Navy Seals.  So that funding that we were able to procure there was extremely important in our success in Iraq.”

The unit departed en route to Camp Shelby, Miss., for mobilization out-processing prior to returning to Arkansas later this week.

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