VNG fixed-wing aviators return to Virginia after successful deployment

(Contributed photo)

CHESTERFIELD, Va. — Virginia National Guard aviators assigned to the Chesterfield-based Detachment 1, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 245th Aviation Regiment are home after an 11-month deployment to Kuwait. The six-Soldier fixed-wing detachment returned stateside in early June 2020 after providing mission-critical, time-sensitive transport of passengers and cargo throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

The detachment mobilized in July 2019 and teamed up with four aviators and two flight operations personnel from the Des Moines, Iowa-based Detachment 6, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 641st Aviation Regiment. Commanded by VNG 1st Lt. Thomas Fuller, the team formed the C-12 Regional Flight Center Kuwait, based at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait. 

The successful completion of this deployment marked the seventeenth consecutive year Army National Guard Soldiers have fulfilled this vital theater requirement in Kuwait. During their year-long deployment, the detachment operated C-12R aircraft in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Spartan Shield, transporting more than 82,000 pounds of cargo and 1,290 passengers across eight countries in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. 

“The Regional Flight Center frequently visited two to three countries in one mission,” said Fuller. “We were tasked with transporting some of the most important officers and senior leaders in the AOR.”

For their steadfast, reliable support and accident-free execution of more than 1,100 mission hours, the C-12 RFC – Kuwait was presented with a certificate of appreciation by Maj. Gen. John P. Sullivan, commander of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command. 

“The detachment is self-sufficient, always ready, and performs well whenever called,” said Col. William X. Taylor, Virginia’s state aviation officer and commander of the VNG’s Army Aviation Support Facility. 

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the unit’s return home from April to June 2020. Despite this unexpected in-theater extension, the team continued to provide unimpeded support to the Kuwait mission.

Fuller said he’s proud of the work his aviators performed, and said they handled the unexpected challenges which delayed their return home in stride. 

“The members of the RFC displayed exceptional resilience when confronted with countless obstacles during their movement home,” said Fuller. 

This was not the first deployment for most of the detachment. For Chief Warrant Officer 5 Delmar C. Kidd, it was his seventh mobilization. For Chief Warrant Officer Kevin R. Edwards Jr., it was his sixth. Having such a wealth of experience helped make the deployment a success, Fuller said. 

“Similarly, the Iowa unit contained a lot of experience with only one Soldier experiencing their first deployment,” Fuller explained. “We hit the ground running and took over the mission from Missouri and New York within a week.”

Army National Guard fixed-wing aviators provide crucial mission support at home and abroad, including in support of COVID-19 response operations, said Lt. Col. Darrell Rasor, outgoing commander of Operational Support Airlift Activity, a department of the Army Field Operating Agency under the National Guard Bureau. 

“In the last two years, fixed-wing aviators and Soldiers across the 54 states and territories successfully executed more than 42,000 safe flying hours transporting 10,600 passengers and 328,000 pounds of cargo in support of mission critical, time-sensitive non-executive fixed wing airlift around the world,” said Rasor. “The fixed-wing community supported Army COVID response actions through the execution of over 2,000 hours since late March 2020. This critical support was necessary for the Army and nation due to sparse commercial air support following pandemic closures.”