Lacking necessary experience and training for a tour in Iraq, many pilots and crew chiefs of A 2-224th AVN, came here greener than the spring grass we left behind in the US, one year ago. Only time and events cured our novice ineptitude. The experienced staff wanted to test the freshly molded, challenging us to plan, present, and execute the trip from Iraq to Kuwait.

On top of everything going on, a collection of newly promoted CW2s and 1LTs put their minds together, developing the plan, contingencies, and compilations of information, into an intelligible briefing given before the company. The commander wanted the finished product presented more than a week out of our actual departure. We are sure his timing was a safety net, in the case we botched the assignment, allowing ample time to rectify any misgivings.

Announcing "Operation Didi Mao", a phrase only soldiers two and three times our age understood, our newest and youngest pilot in command at 23 years old(looks 18), Turbo, covered the execution portion of the briefing, intertwined with a few details covered by the 1LTs. As confirmed by the instructor pilots at the end of the brief, the once new guys were well on their way to usurping the duties of those before us.

Our return home will mark a more formal turnover, rumored to include about 15 departing skilled aviators and mechanics, mostly due to retirement after more than 20 years of service. Some are retiring after 30 years and one after 40 years. Flight School slots this year were more numerous than they've been in recent years, providing for about 15 new pilots, to fill in the gaps. Normally we only send one or two prospects off to flight school a year.

There are also those that have just had it with the military. Once the "Stop Loss" policy is lifted, they too will depart, citing the need to be with family or corporate careers needing attention and some soldiers state they are just tired of the circus hoops they've jumped through, while the Army sets them afire.

Until then we are prepared for a couple of weeks of transient living. Packing and moving, packing and moving, and packing and moving, eventually to end up on US soil. With the last combat flight, the young ones are eager to take the unit out of Iraq -- hopefully for the last time!

By Bert Stover |  February 9, 2007; 8:16 AM ET  | Category:  Al Taqaddum, Iraq
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Welcome Home Dawgs. I can't even begin to tell you all how much I missed you. Well done my friends. See you soon.

Posted by: CW2 Hill | February 10, 2007 05:52 PM


We can't wait until you are back in Richmond!

Job well done!!!!!

Posted by: av8ryf | February 11, 2007 01:48 PM

So proud of all military men and women, for the sacrifices you have made to keep our nation free..We love you and stand with you always...

Posted by: Jane Kastner | February 11, 2007 02:52 PM

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