Helicopter Unit Honored

Some 300 Third Infantry Division soldiers were honored today for their service in Operation Iraqi Freedom. They are members of the Second Battalion, Third Aviation Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield. WTOC was there for the ceremony and talked with these men and women, who played a critical role in the war.

The Knighthawks are a support battalion. Their job was to make sure the soldiers of the Third ID had what they needed for operations. One by one, they were honored for their work. The Knighthawks ran supply missions in their Blackhawk helicopters, rescuing injured soldiers, recovering downed aircraft and providing commanders with an all-important view of what was happening on the battlefield.

Brig. Gen. Jose Riojas told them, "In the end, you did everything the Division asked. There was no obstacle too great to overcome." He praised their success and personally pinned on their medals. "To be able to recognize them would be an honor for anyone of any rank, to just stand in their presence and admire their professionalism," he said.

This was a bittersweet day for soldiers of the 2-3 Aviation Regiment. While they're excited to be receiving medals for their many accomplishments in Operation Iraqi Freedom, they're also remembering six soldiers who did not come home. On April second, their Blackhawk helicopter crashed in central Iraq. Today, their fellow soldiers paused to honor them.

Capt. Bradley Bruce remembers his good friend, Capt. James Adamouski. "We had gone to West Point together. We were roommates in flight school and he was my closest friend in the unit," he said. "You never forget those guys. Nobody will."

The Knighthawks were awarded the bronze star, the air medal and air medal with V device, and the Army's commendation medal.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com