Commander, 1st AB
Col. Woodard B. Hopkins III graduated from Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri and received his commission as an Aviation Second Lieutenant in 1991. Following the Officer Basic and... More
Command Sgt. Maj., 1st AB
Command Sgt. Maj. Michael D. Sutterfield joined the Army on May 12, 1992 as a Private, E-2, Air Traffic Control Specialist from Jacksonville, Arkansas. He attended... More
In 1965, as the U.S. Army's involvement in Vietnam grew deeper, the ubiquitous use of the helicopter in the new "frontless" war became apparent. The Army had to have a means to maintain tactical and administrative control over all of its divisional and non-divisional aviation assets in country. It did this with the creation of the 1st Aviation Brigade, the Golden Hawks.
In April 1965, the USA Aviation Brigade (Provisional) was activated in Vietnam with the existing 13th, 14th, 52nd, and 145th Aviation Battalions reporting to it. In August it became the 12th Aviation Group. Now doubled in size, the 12th Aviation Group was used as the basis to form the 1st Aviation Brigade in March 1966. The Brigade served in Vietnam from May 1966 until March 1973. At its peak strength, the 1st Aviation Brigade had over 4,000 rotary and fixed wing aircraft and 24,000 Soldiers assigned.
The 1st Aviation Brigade was responsible for forty percent of the Army's helicopter assets and one hundred percent of its fixed wing assets in Vietnam. In 1969, the Brigade carried more than 6.5 million troops in more than 4 million sorties, flying more than 1.5 million hours to accomplish this monumental mission. Units of the Brigade performed brilliantly throughout the war and were instrumental in developing and perfecting the art of helicopter warfare. Upon withdrawal from the Republic of South Vietnam, the Golden Hawks were sent to Fort Rucker, Ala., to serve as a training brigade where they are still stationed today.
The 1st Aviation Brigade is responsible for training Aviation officers, warrant officers, and Soldiers with a variety of Aviation military occupational specialties. The Golden Hawks’ Brigade Headquarters and most subordinate units are stationed at the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, Fort Rucker. The 1st Aviation Brigade commands three distinctly different battalions, each with a unique mission to train young Soldiers and officers - the 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment; the 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment; and 2nd Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
Along with its many command responsibilities, logistical support requirements, and administrative duties, the Brigade's primary mission is to train and develop future Army Aviation leaders. Instructors and cadre write, review, and develop the courses critical to initial military training as well as professional military education. The cadre are some the most competent and experienced officers, warrant officers, NCOs and civilians. They bring relevant combat experience together with current Army doctrine, lessons learned and a focus on air-ground operations to provide world-class instruction in a learning environment that is Above the Best.
Tactical training is further reinforced with state-of-the art simulations, allowing students to assume various command and staff positions at all command levels while fighting simulated battles throughout a wide spectrum of tactical scenarios.
Lastly, the Brigade conducts a variety of training support, administrative, and garrison support missions as part of USAACE team.
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