NEWS | Aug. 13, 2021

Winged Warriors receive Guatemalan Defense decorations

By Maria Pinel Public Affairs, Joint Task Force-Bravo

Central America suffered great devastation last year due to Hurricanes Eta and Iota. The region was hit with two back-to-back hurricanes last November and the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, Joint Task Force-Bravo, answered the call. 

Service members with Joint Task Force-Bravo and the 1-228 Aviation Regiment Winged Warriors conducted operations across Guatemala, Honduras and Panama following the devastation left by Eta and Iota. The Guatemalan Armed Forces awarded the Medal of the White Nun to 31 members of the Winged Warriors and 14 0to supporting staff with JTF-Bravo to recognize their support during hurricane relief operations.

“Having a team of professionals such as yourselves is what makes us the partner of choice for Central America. I have no doubt that you are ready, and you are prepared and you will support our partners if called upon again,” said U.S Army Col. Steven Gventer, JTF-Bravo commander during his remarks. “I am proud of the work you have done and I’m proud to be a part of the Task Force’s legacy; our Guatemalan partners are also proud and they recognize your efforts,” said Gventer.

Recipients were a part of a Aviation Task Force Rawhide and Aviation Task Force Guatemala and conducted 19 emergency medical evacuations, transported 42 isolated persons back to safety, and assisted 28 Guatemalan Soldiers in transporting them into remote locations to conduct relief operations. The team also supplied isolated communities with 267,980 pounds of urgent life-saving rations in support of the United States Agency for International Development assistance operations. Collectively, the Winged Warriors flew 120 hours, working with our Guatemalan partners, to alleviate suffering during the hurricane crisis.

“Flying through Guatemala with the bad weather and seeing the damage from the hurricanes, and to see people in the mountains that had been cut off from the world for days, if not weeks, and to land in their soccer fields and unload food for them was really impressive,” said U.S. Army Capt. Colby Hyde, officer in charge of aviation operations during hurricane Iota response with the 1-228 Aviation Regiment.  

The White Nun is the Guatemalan national flower and as a decoration it represents distinguished service in the Republic of Guatemala. The medal can be conferred to foreign military members who have shown meritorious actions of fraternity, friendship, and loyalty towards the Guatemalan Armed Forces and in support of the Guatemalan people. 

“I think what made this experience unique is the fact that it was directly improving people’s lives. In the Army we do a lot of training and preparation, which is obviously very important, but this was an action that was short notice that we all responded to and had a direct impact in people’s happiness and wellbeing,” said Hyde. “This, to date, is the most satisfying thing I’ve done in the Army. To actually improve someone’s life, to spend the blade hours, and all this training and all this planning coming to fruition for a good purpose is really cool.”

The 1-228 supports the U. S. Southern Command's engagement and security cooperation strategy under Army South, providing heavy lift, medical evacuation, and general aviation support spanning the joint operations area in support of JTF-Bravo.