By Leslie M. Hernandez

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD First Cavalry commanders at division headquarters had a wary eye on weather that threatened a third attempt to stand up one of two aviation battalions Thursday.

Fortunately, the weather held and the ceremony was able to come off with hardly a hitch despite a brisk wind and threatening skies.

Otherwise, the uncasing of colors for the 3rd and 4th battalions of the 227th Aviation Regiment occurred with the usual pomp and circumstance. Brigade Commander Col. Daniel Shanahan was the reviewing officer with Maj. Gen. Thomas Fil, division commander, and Brig. Gen. Bill Troy, assistant division commander, in attendance.

The first battalion activated Thursday was the 3rd Battalion of the 227th Aviation Regiment. Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Mike Shenk said his unit was being grown nearly from the ground up.

"Only about 20 percent are soldiers from other Cav units," Shenk said. "The rest are new, just out of school, mostly pilots and mechanics."

Shenk said the challenges of building a battalion were unique and something he looked forward to.

"They call the soldiers who build new units plank holders who become that unit's legacy," Shenk said. "It will be something soldiers who follow in the future will look up to."

Although the 3rd Battalion is being made up of new soldiers, the unit itself has been activated and stood down a number of times since its inception in February 1963. Tours for the unit include Vietnam, Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Shenk said 3rd Battalion will have more than 400 soldiers and 30 UH-60 Blackhawks.

Also activated on Thursday was 4th Battalion of the 227th Aviation Regiment. Lt. Col. Tim DeVito, battalion commander, said his unit was based in Germany before moving to Fort Hood in August 2005.

"We've been trying to have the formal welcome for the battalion since we stood up on Nov. 16, 2005," DeVito said. "We've been rained out twice." DeVito added the 4/227th consists of 24 Longbow Apache helicopters and 430 soldiers.

The transition from Germany to Fort Hood has been smooth mainly because of the support of the community, DeVito said.

"I would be amiss if I didn't say something about how great the community has been in welcoming the soldiers and their families to the area," DeVito said. "Everything has gone extremely well."

Contact Leslie M. Hernandez at

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