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NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – In the days of the mounted cavalry trooper, the “stable call” was the sound of a bugle signalling cavalrymen to tend to their horses. In today’s cavalry, the traditions remain the same, but the stable call has altered its significance. Troopers of Task Force Shooter, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, gathered Jan. 14 to honor these cavalry traditions at Jalalabad Army Airfield.
In the atmosphere of team-building and camaraderie, the squadron conducted several warrant officer promotions, awarded certificates to newly designated pilots-in-command, awarded the Broken Spur, said a farewell to one of its officers, broke-in Stetsons, and recognized several contractors working with the unit.
“I’d like to start off tonight by recognizing five contractors who have been a great asset to the squadron,” said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 James Riley of Fulton, Miss., recognizing five civilian contractors who deployed with the unit and work alongside Army maintainers to keep the squadron’s aircraft safe and mission ready. “We look forward to having them with us for the rest of the deployment.”
The second event of the evening was awarding pilot-in-command certificates. The pilot-in-command is the pilot ultimately responsible for the aircraft’s operation and safety during flight.
“In light of these demonstrated qualities,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christopher Downey, TF Shooter commander from Philadelphia, reading the certificate, “he is therefore charged to safely and diligently discharge his responsibilities as an aircraft commander and is hereby given the title and authority of pilot-in-command.”
Newly designated pilots-in-command awarded certificates were: U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stefan Blasingame of Seattle, an AH-64D Apache pilot; U.S. Army Capt. Kyle Rogers of Erie, Pa., also an Apache pilot; U.S. Army Capt. William Hanna of West Des Moines, Iowa, a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot; U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas Daniels of St. Johnsbury, Vt., a CH-47 Chinook pilot; U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mark Chamberlin of St. Augustine, Fla., a Chinook pilot; and U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew Blazewicz of Hollidaysburg, Pa., also a Chinook pilot.
The most anticipated event of the night was the awarding of the Broken Spur.
“The history of the Broken Spur has a long and distinguished lineage, dating back at least until mid-July of 2010,” said U.S. Army Maj. Mark Herold, squadron executive officer and a native of Waterloo, Iowa.
The Broken Spur is literally a tethered spur, broken in half and attached to a necklace and awarded to the squadron member who has distinguished himself or herself for the most ridiculous and humorous error in judgement. The Broken Spur is to be proudly displayed in the recipient’s place of business, and the person awarded the Broken Spur will recount the infamous details of their impaired cognitive abilities when requested.
After opening the forum to new nominations and through much debate, a unanimous vote selected U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joseph Carr as the recipient of the Broken Spur.
After the Broken Spur was awarded, three pilots were promoted to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 3. The three pilots were: Mark Leach of Daleville, Ala., an OH-58D Kiowa pilot; Andrew Erp of Watertown, S.D., also a Kiowa pilot; and Mark Chamberlin of St. Augustine, Fla., a CH-47 Chinook pilot.
In the midst of congratulating new pilots-in-command and recently promoted pilots, there was also a farewell. The squadron said farewell to U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jeffery Shadwick, an OH-58D Kiowa pilot from Campbell Hall, N.Y.
“Coming to us early from flight school while the troop was still at (High Altitude Mountainous Environmental Training), 1st Lt. Shadwick, with little platoon leader experience, figured out what needed to be done, and got the job done,” said his troop commander, U.S. Army Capt. Scott Wohlford of Watertown, N.Y. “He will be greatly missed but we look forward to him doing great things with his next unit.”
Shadwick will be going to another base to become a flight platoon leader.
“I couldn’t have hoped for a better place to start my career as an aviator then Task Force Shooter,” said 1st Lt. Shadwick. “These stable calls are one of my favorite cavalry traditions where we can all get together and celebrate all the achievements and occurrences in our organization.”
To end the gathering, troopers conducted the time-honored cavalry tradition of breaking in their Stetsons. The following cavalry troopers broke in their Stetsons: U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Richard Ernst of Islip, N.Y.; U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Brian Cammack of West Bend, Wis., and U.S. Army Spc. Ben Shipp of Roundup, Mont., and the entire MEDEVAC platoon, C Company, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th CAB.
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