U.S. ARMY ALASKA, FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – U.S. Army Alaska’s Aviation Task Force will bid its 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment farewell this week when the unit inactivates as part of the Army’s Aviation Restructure Initiative.
The squadron will be inactivated in a ceremony at Fort Wainwright’s Hangar 5 at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 6.
The Aviation Restructure Initiative is the Army plan to divest legacy aircraft, modernize advanced aircraft and reorganize the force structure of the Active and Reserve Components. Significant changes as part of the reorganization include a reduction in combat aviation brigades and the retirement of all aging single-engine helicopters, including the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, which was the airframe the 6-17th flew.
From horseback in Arizona and Texas to armored personnel carriers in Vietnam and later attack helicopters in Iraq, the 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment departs with a storied lineage, having first constituted and activated as Troop F, 17th Cavalry Regiment on July 1, 1916, at Fort Bliss, Texas. The 17th Cavalry was transferred to Douglas, Arizona, on May 17, 1917 in response to the need for additional border security and to quiet labor unrest in the Arizona copper mines.
The unit later served in both World War II and Vietnam, receiving four awards of the Republic of Vietnam’s Cross of Gallantry with Palm. The unit also received campaign participation credit for 14 Vietnam campaigns. Troop F was the last ground cavalry troop to leave Vietnam, departing on March 31, 1972. The unit was then inactivated.
On Nov. 16, 2005, Troop F was reorganized and activated as Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment at Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii, and assigned to the Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division as an OH-58D Attack-Reconnaissance Squadron.
In May 2006 the squadron was re-stationed at Fort Wainwright as a USARAK aviation asset.
The 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment deployed as Task Force Saber to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008. The Squadron was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for their performance in Northern Iraq.
Task Force Saber again deployed to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn in 2011. The unit was the only air cavalry squadron throughout the Iraq Joint Operations Area responsible for supporting two divisions and multiple brigade combat teams as well as U.S. Special Forces.
In June 2014 the squadron deployed to the Republic of Korea for a nine-month rotational deployment. The squadron conducted joint, multi-national, and combined-arms training, supporting every American maneuver battalion on the peninsula in addition to U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Republic of Korea forces.
USARAK will gain the 3rd Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, which will reflag in Alaska this summer from its current assignment as part of the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade in Ansbach, Germany. The unit flies AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.
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