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4-6 Attack Reconnaissance Squadron closes chapter at JBLM

Helicopter unit cases colors, will return next year

Gwendolynn Smith stands at parade rest during the 4th Attack Reconnaissance Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment's Inactivation and Casing of the Colors Ceremony. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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The 4th Attack Reconnaissance Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment held an Inactivation and Casing of the Colors Ceremony this morning on Watkins Field.

"It's a big day," said Col. (P) Paul Bontrager, deputy commanding general, 7th Infantry Division, to the almost 400 soldiers standing in front of him.

"But it's not necessarily the happiest day."

As part of its restructuring initiative, the 4-6 ARS follows the Army's February proposal to phase out the Army's entire Kiowa fleet.

"The Kiowa is a legacy aircraft," explained Lt. Col. Brian Watkins, the squadron's commander.

The Kiowa was used for scouting, duty and light-attack combat missions.

"The air cavalry is a mind set," Bontrager pointed out. "When we fly, American soldiers do not die."

>>> Last Bit of Color: Command Sgt. Maj. Stanley Williams, 4th Attack Reconnaissance Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, pulls a case over the last bit of the squadron's colors. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

In 2013, the squadron deployed to South Korea as part of a Rotation of Forces plan in conjunction with the 2nd Infantry Division based at Camp Humphreys.

The unit became the first regionally aligned force to Korea, and it conducted reconnaissance missions while attached to the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade.

During the rotation a wide spectrum of operations were conducted.

"We were not only the first squadron to serve in this capacity," said Watkins, "but we set the standard for others to follow."

In response to the Army's uncertain funding future, the phasing out of the squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is in response to the funding challenges Army planners currently face.

Bontrager quickly pointed out that today's inactivation is not a net loss to JBLM.

"Next year at this time, we will reactivate the squadron, and it will be larger," he said.

"The transition from the Kiowas to the Apaches will be complete."

As to the squadron's personnel, some will remain at JBLM, others will retrain into other career fields, and a few will leave the service.

"Today's ceremony closes a chapter in my military career," said Cpl. Timothy Davis

"I will not forget my time and service with this squadron, and I am looking forward to my next challenge."

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