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By Capt. Sean Roughneen, Company Commander A/2-104th GSAB

The Soldiers of Company A, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion recently completed their hundredth day since arriving at Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

The “Black Sheep” were activated on Feb. 17 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After they completed the required post-mobilization training tasks at Fort Sill, Okla., the company departed for Kuwait in mid-May. Since arriving at Camp Buehring, the Black Sheep, as part of the Aviation Task Force-Kuwait, has provided continuous aviation support to U.S. Army Central Command, so far flying more than 750 hours on 235 missions.

Sgt. Cesar Cuevas greets President-elect, then Sen. Barack Obama on a flight transporting Congressional delegation from Ali Al Salem Airbase to Camp Arifjan and finally to the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait on July 18.

The mission load has kept the company very busy during its first 100 days in theater. Things got off to a quick start with their very first mission involving Lt. Gen. H. Stephen Blum, then Chief, National Guard Bureau, and members of his staff. The air crew proudly informed Lt. Gen. Blum that they hailed from the Garden State.

A primary function of the ATF-KU, known as Task Force Ghostrider, is to provide direct support to the USARCENT Commander, Lt. Gen. James J. Lovelace, who also heads the Coalition Forces Land Component Command based in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. His dedicated UH-60 Blackhawk aircrew is comprised of Chief Warrant Officers Joseph Parsons and Paul J. Ciervo Jr., along with Sgts. Paul Cimino and Harold Caro.

Because the mission lends itself to high-level visits by elected U.S. officials and dignitaries, 2-104th has transported numerous congressmen and senators, including Sens. Hagel, Obama and Reed throughout the region.

Probably the most rewarding missions entail moving Soldiers in and out of Iraq. The vast array of missions has contributed to a high operational tempo which has allowed time to go by very fast for the company.

The dust storms and high temperatures that characterized the shamal season — spanning June through August — tested the Soldiers skills assigned immediately upon arrival. However, due to the effective mix of seasoned professionals with enthusiastic junior Soldiers, the unit has been able to overcome the initial difficulties encountered during its first 100 days. This has been due in large part to the strong sense of esprit de corps they developed, despite the fact that the company was only stood up two years ago. The company’s confidence is bolstered by the knowledge of what it has accomplished in the two short years that lead them to the dayto- day missions in Kuwait and Iraq.

Sgt. Harold Caro (second from left) became a naturalized U.S. Citizen in a ceremony with 20 other applicants on Sept. 5 at Camp Arifjan. The Deputy Commanding General of Coalition Forces Land Component Command, Maj. Gen. Charles Anderson (left) presided over the ceremony. Also pictured are Chief Warrant Officers’ Joe Parsons and Paul J. Ciervo Jr. and Sgt. Paul Cimino (center to right); all serve as the General’s aircrew.

Block leave started last month, allowing Soldiers from the 2-104th to return home on their mid-tour leave to visit family and friends. This, of course, greatly enhances each Soldier’s morale. Their support chains keep them well provided for with countless care packages and much appreciated letters from home.

Now that the Black Sheep have completed their first 100 days, and the first six months of their activation, they can enjoy the battle rhythm that they worked hard to achieve—all the while looking forward to their safe and successful return home next year.


Table of Contents
Volume 34 Number 3 Staff / Information
(c) 2008 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs