Army Aviation

History of the 128th Aviation Brigade

128th Aviation Brigade/ By CPT Timothy Dore: The 128th Aviation Brigade’s motto “Born Under Fire” permeates everything we do as a unit in cultivating the future of Army Aviation Maintainers under the fire of rigorous training.

128th Aviation Brigade Commander, COL Bryan A. Morgan (center), with the brigade leadership at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA., September 2, 2020./ U.S. ARMY 128TH AVN. BDE. PHOTO

Although our lineage is short (the Brigade was activated in 1990 in Panama as a provisional unit in Operation Just Cause and served until 1995), the team at Fort Eustis is rich with history, experiencing birth and rebirth across the span of many decades.

When Army Aviation became an established branch in 1983, Aviation logistics training continued its mission under the command of the Transportation Corps at Fort Eustis, VA. The US Army Transportation and Aviation Logistics School (USATALS) trained Aviation maintainers and logisticians, but, as correspondence from MG Ellis D. Parker, Commanding General of the US Army Aviation Center, to MG Fred E. Elam, Commanding General of the US Army Transportation Center, suggests, the hope was to “improve the perception of Aviation Logisticians as full members of the Aviation Branch.” By 1985 the demand for unique Aviation-training was clear and the US Army Aviation Logistics School (USAALS) was formed. Although USAALS now served as a separate TRADOC school, the Transportation Corps retained command authority. Finally, by 1988, USAALS became a tenant activity at Fort Eustis, fully transitioning to the Aviation branch, a status it would retain until its disestablishment in 2012.

USAALS would train helicopter maintainers from initial-entry through the Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course, the Warrant Officer Aviation Maintenance Technician Course, and the Aircraft Armament Maintenance Technician Course through four departments. The Department of Aviation Trades Training (DATT) trained the electrical, structural, Pnedraulics, power train, and propulsion trades for all Army aircraft as well as warrant officer technical training. The Department of Aviation Systems Training (DAST) provided maintenance training on cargo and utility helicopter systems and Aviation Life Support Equipment (ALSE). The Department of Attack Helicopter Training (DAHT) conducted all enlisted and warrant officer armament technician training, and the Department of Training Plans and Evaluation (DTPE) developed all the training through products, concepts, doctrine, and evaluations.

In line with USAAL’s maintenance focus, the Army’s Maintenance Test Pilot Course (MTPC), which began under the Transportation School in 1966, also ran at Fort Eustis on Felker Army Airfield, the world’s first military heliport. The course ran until 1994 when MTPC moved to Fort Rucker, AL, to consolidate all aviator training. By 2011, the Department of the Army activated the 128th Aviation Brigade to provide all Aviation logistics training and brigade level command and control over the Aviation community at Fort Eustis.

Currently, the 128th Aviation Brigade consists of the 1st Battalion 210th Aviation Regiment which conducts all Initial Entry Training for Apache maintainers, while also training electrical, Pneudraulic, and avionics repairers for the Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters and the Warrant Officer Technician Basic and Advanced Courses. The 2nd Battalion 210th Aviation Regiment trains all Chinook and Black Hawk helicopter systems repairers along with powerplant, powertrain, and structures repairers. The 1st Battalion 222nd Aviation Regiment serves as the student battalion and manages the trainee population as they make the transition from civilian to Soldier and learn their Aviation craft. Finally, the brigade headquarters company serves to not only complete the functions of a headquarters element, but also to manage the complex operations that running a school requires. All four bodies of the 128th Aviation Brigade play a crucial role in the functioning of the unit and the production of Army maintainers and technicians.

Over the course of several decades, our mission here at Fort Eustis has remained the same: train the future of Army Aviation. Through name changes and course redesigns, what is now the 128th Aviation Brigade has always faithfully served maintainers and aviators alike, and we will continue to shape the future.

“Born Under Fire!”

CPT Timothy Dore is the commander of Co. A, 1-210th Aviation Regiment, 128th Aviation Brigade, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA.