Fort Stewart Scout Helicopters Reassigned - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/11/04

Fort Stewart Scout Helicopters Reassigned

Scout helicopters provided the Third Infantry's eye in the sky, and now they're gone. Fort Stewart, in Hinesville, was home to the scout helicopters of the 3-7 Cavalry. But WTOC was on hand this morning when, unlike in most Westerns, this cavalry went off into the sunrise. Pilots from the air portion of the 3-7 Cav fired up their choppers to say goodbye to Fort Stewart and the 3rd Infantry.

"It is sad, because I did all the rotations, went to war, and lot of these people are like family," said test pilot CW2 Jamie McGinity.

Pilots and support staff for the 15 Kiowa Warrior helicopters are leaving for a new assignment. These pilots were the eyes and ears of the division in Iraq. Now they become part of the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

It's part of the Army's reorganization as it regroups soldiers with similar tasks. As these choppers leave, six take their place at Hunter and more are on the way. "There's also a second Apache battalion coming from Fort Bragg shortly and another assault battalion of UH 60 Blackhawks on the way," said LTC Dan Williams, the 1-3 Battalion commander.

Friends and family sat and watched as an aviation era came to an end at Wright Army Airfield. "It's going to be tough watching these guys leave, cause you make a special bond with everybody," mechanic SFC Eric Thompson.

With their personal gear in the back of nearby Chinooks, the pilots and their aircraft left the ground with no rear view mirror to see the Rock of the Marne.

The move doesn't mean Wright Airfield will be empty. Hinesville and Liberty County have signed an agreement with the Army to allow civilian air traffic after the runway is expanded.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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