Kentucky aviation unit departs for Middle East

Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Sgt. Brad Sizemore of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation walks with his family following a departure ceremony for his unit in Frankfort, Ky., June 4, 2014. Sizemore and approximately 50 Soldiers of the unit will deploy to the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Friends and family joined the Kentucky National Guard to say farewell to the Soldiers assigned to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, June 4. The aviation unit will deploy to the Middle East this summer.

Kentucky Adjutant General Edward W. Tonini presided over the departure ceremony and called the unit well-trained and well-suited for their mission.

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Sgt. Joshua Back kisses the hand of his wife, Kristie during a departure ceremony for Soldiers of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation in Frankfort, Ky., June 4, 2014. Back and his wife both say the unit feels like family and gives them strength to handle the upcoming deployment. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“We honor these aviators and aviation Soldiers assembled before us as they answer our nation’s call once again,” he said. “They have the experience, they know what they are doing and they are ready for this specific mission.”Click here to see more photos from the ceremony.

Bravo Co. 2-147th will head to Fort Hood, Texas where they will prepare for their deployment overseas. During their tour, the unit will fly UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters in airlift support missions for U.S. military operations throughout the region.

The unit previously deployed to Kosovo in 2009-2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and prior to that in 2005-2006 for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Capt. Cliff Flanagan, Bravo Company commander, who has been in charge of the unit since October of 2013 echoed Tonini’s praise and acknowledgement of the unit’s preparedness.

“After spending time with Bravo Company, I have quickly learned how skilled, talented and professional every member of this unit is,” said Flanagan. “It’s a rare occasion when an outstanding group of individuals come together and call themselves a team. I am very proud to be a member of that team.”

Members of that team include Sgts Joshua Back and Brad Sizemore, both crew chiefs with Bravo Co. and both departing on their first deployment.

“This deployment will be hard, being away from family and my beautiful wife, but I couldn’t be sent out with a better group of guys,” said Back.

Sizemore also said, as many other Soldiers agreed, Bravo Co. is a tight-knit family. “It’s bittersweet, leaving my family and home but I know this is going to be a good deployment and we are ready as a unit. I’ve been looking forward to this.”

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Chief Warrant Officer Joel Bowling with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation uses the window of a UH-60 Blackhawk for a photo with his son and daughter following a departure ceremony for the unit in Frankfort, Ky., June 4, 2014. Bowling will pilot a Blackhawk in support of U.S. military operations in the Middle East during the unit’s deployment. (U.S. Army national Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“This is our first deployment together,” said Back’s wife, Kristie. “But I have made great friends here through the FRG (Family Readiness Group) and the spouses. That’s one thing that has eased his mind is that I will be taken care of at home by these amazing people and my supportive family.”

“It’s a long road ahead of us, but we knew what we were getting into and I know these boys will take care of him.”

Bravo Co. is expected to spend nine months overseas and should return home next spring.