The Missouri National Guard’s 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion began the new year last week with a roll-out ceremony that officially transitioned the battalion to an AH-64D Apache Longbow unit.
The battalion, overseen by the 35th Combat Aviation Brigade, or CAB, in Sedalia, has a rich history as an Army Aviation Battalion within the Missouri National Guard. The battalion has flown the UH-1 “Huey” Iroquois, OH-58A/C Kiowa Warrior and the AH-1 Cobra.
In 1999, the battalion was designated as one of eight National Guard battalions to receive the AH-64A Apache. In 2002, the first AH-64A helicopter arrived at Whiteman Air Force Base. In August 2009, the National Guard Bureau designated the battalion as the sixth Army National Guard Longbow battalion and began fielding it with aircraft in October 2011.
“What a great day for the Attack Battalion and for the CAB as a whole,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard. He continued that he looks forward to a great long history with the Longbow aircraft in a great new building on a premiere Active Duty base.
Col. Shane Openshaw, U.S. Army Apache Program manager, said it was hard to believe that three years ago, this battalion had no plan, no money and no direction where it was going from the A Model Apaches.
“Team Apache is strong today, but it’s getting stronger tomorrow,” Openshaw said.
Mike Burke, director of business development for Boeing’s Attack Helicopter Program, echoed Danner and Openshaw on how important the day was for both Boeing in Mesa, Ariz., and for the Missouri National Guard.
During the ceremony, the tradition of exchanging the AH-64D logbook signifies the transfer of the aircraft. David Koopersmith, vice president of Boeing’s Attack Helicopter Program, presented Openshaw with the logbook. Openshaw passed it onto Danner. Danner passed it onto the 35th Combat Aviation Brigade’s Commander Col. Mark McLemore with the logbook ending in the hands of Lt. Col. James Schreffler, 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion commander.
Schreffler then tossed the key to Lt. Col. Thomas Burson, Army Aviation Support Facility commander, as the manager of the flying hour program and maintenance of the aircraft.
“We have kicked off this year by breaking in our new aircraft, and beginning the progression program for our aircrews,” Schreffler said.
Schreffler told Brig. Gen. Scott Vanderhamm, Whiteman Air Force Base commander, “I’m sure you have appreciated the sound of helicopter rotors over Whiteman again after somewhat of a lull in activity as we turned in our dated Alpha model aircraft.”
The last A Model Apache aircraft left Whiteman Air Force Base Jan. 10. The battalion is on schedule to receive the remainder of the new D Model aircraft by this spring.
Boeing presented Danner with an Apache model and Schreffler with a framed photo of the first three Apache Longbows delivered to Boeing in Mesa, Ariz., prior to coming to Whiteman Air Force Base.
Concluding the ceremony, the spouses of current and former 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance commanders christened the first Longbow, a tradition continued by the aviation community to protect their aviators as they bravely meet the challenges faced daily in the unforgiving sky.