Capt. Andrew Webster, commander of Company G, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation, accepts a Kansas flag from Gov. Sam Brownback. The flag, which had flown over the Kansas statehouse, will go with the unit on its deployment to the Middle East in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. (Photo by Sgt. Zach Sheely, Public Affairs Office)
Capt. Andrew Webster, commander of Company G, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation, accepts a Kansas flag from Gov. Sam Brownback. The flag, which had flown over the Kansas statehouse, will go with the unit on its deployment to the Middle East in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. (Photo by Sgt. Zach Sheely, Public Affairs Office)

Family and friends give aviation Soldiers a warm send off

By Sgt. Zach Sheely
Public Affairs Office

Capt. Andrew Webster, commander of Company G, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation, accepts a Kansas flag from Gov. Sam Brownback. The flag, which had flown over the Kansas statehouse, will go with the unit on its deployment to the Middle East in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. (Photo by Sgt. Zach Sheely, Public Affairs Office)

Family, friends, and colleagues gathered at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Topeka April 21 to honor Soldiers of Company G, 1st Battalion, 111th Aviation, Kansas National Guard.

The Topeka-based helicopter unit is deploying in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Their primary mission will be aeromedical evacuation.

“For those who may not know how important this mission is,” said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, Kansas adjutant general, “they are integral to what we call that golden hour when an individual may be wounded on a battlefield.

“I have every confidence that these Soldiers are trained and ready to support the mission that they are being asked to carry out in support of the defense of our great nation.”

Tafanelli said that this is the fifth overseas deployment of Kansas Army National Guard aeromedical evacuation aviation assets since Sept. 11, 2001. Company G is the third of several units deploying in 2017.

“Everyone is seeing an increase in operational tempo, and we’re feeling it here in Kansas,” said Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. “We’re seeing a more aggressive stance by the administration. Generally, things around the world are more stable when the United States takes a military stance.

“The number of people that we’ve had wounded and then been saved has grown substantially because of what you do. I continue to constantly be in awe of the people who willingly sign up and be selfless and courageous in such a way.”

Brownback presented an official Kansas state flag from Kris W. Kobach, Secretary of State of Kansas, to Capt. Andrew Webster, the commander of Company G, in support of the unit’s mission.

“I especially want to thank the families that are here today,” said Webster. “I think too often we forget about the dedication and unhesitating service that our families provide to us while we’re gone. I hope you can find solace in the fact that the Soldiers’ mission in formation today is to save lives.”