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Aviation Gives Troops Decisive Edge
by Army Kari Hawkins - February 22, 2012

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Feb. 15, 2012 - Maj. Gen. Tim McHale shares his insights on Army aviation and the people who have supported aviation success during the 38th annual Joseph P. Cribbins Aviation Product Symposium hosted by the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the Army Aviation Association of America, at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Ala. Photo by Kari Hawkins, Redstone
Feb. 15, 2012 - Maj. Gen. Tim McHale shares his insights on Army aviation and the people who have supported aviation success during the 38th annual Joseph P. Cribbins Aviation Product Symposium hosted by the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the Army Aviation Association of America, at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Ala. Photo by Kari Hawkins, Redstone
 REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Feb. 17, 2012) -- Army aviation is flying high because of the Soldiers on the ground and the civilians who support the program.

In both Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom, Army aviation has given U.S. troops the decisive edge against the enemy, said an officer who has spent 46 of the last 52 months in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Army aviation is the most versatile and capable force in the fight," said Maj. Gen. Tim McHale, now serving as a special assistant to the vice chief of staff of the Army.

"Soldiers and commanders have trust in Army aviation," he said. "They have confidence and they want more of it. Ground commanders want the Apache flying over their Soldiers, ready to do the tough destruction on the enemy in close combat quarters. They want the Kiowa. They want the medevac."

McHale shared his insights on Army aviation with Soldiers, Army civilians and industry leaders during the Army Aviation Association of America's 38th annual Joseph P. Cribbins Aviation Product Symposium hosted by the association's Tennessee Valley Chapter at the Von
Braun Center in Huntsville, Ala., Thursday. The symposium's theme was "Enabling the Future while Performing Today."

He thanked the civilians, contractors and industry leaders in the audience who work for Army aviation every day "thinking out of the box and making things happen."

He talked about a group of 14 aviation Soldiers from the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade who in May 2011 received the German Gold Cross of Honor, the highest German medal for bravery associated with performing outstanding deeds at the risk of one's own life. Only four other German soldiers have received it and no other foreign troops have received the award from Germany. The U.S. Soldiers were recognized for actions taken in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, to rescue 11 German soldiers who had come under attack by insurgents during a dismounted patrol.

"It was the Apache who fought off the insurgents and it was the medevac that came in multiple times under fire, and picked up the dead and wounded," McHale said. "When I met this crew, they were all very humble. It wasn't about them. It was about the troops. There are hundreds of stories like that from over 10 years of fighting, 18 years of war combined. You can depend on aviation combat leaders in action."

Army aviators "are magnificent and they lead the way," he added.

McHale went on to talk about the "godfather" of Army aviation -- Joseph P. Cribbins, who died 10 years ago, and Cribbins' secretary, Carolyn Chapman, who died of cancer five years ago. McHale is the last Soldier on active duty who worked for Cribbins, serving from 1990-91 as an action officer in the Department of the Army's Aviation Logistics Office.

"From these two wonderful human beings, I learned life lessons that were relevant then and are relevant today," McHale said. "They touched many of our lives deeply."

Cribbins' career stretched from the "horse cavalry to the jet age," McHale said.

Cribbins did, in fact, enter the Army as a horse cavalryman during World War II. He served in the Pacific on Gen. Douglas MacArthur's staff, as did his wife, Helen. His military career led him to the Pentagon, where he served on the Army Staff in logistics.

During the buildup to the Vietnam War and the growth of Army aviation, Cribbins was instrumental in forming the Army Aviation Logistics Office. After retiring from the Army, he entered civil service and became the most influential senior executive officer in Army aviation, receiving many high honors and becoming a member of the Army Aviation Association of America's Hall of Fame.

In all, he served 52 years in the Army, 26 as a Soldier and 26 as a civilian.

McHale said Cribbins taught him three life lessons: to stay informed and communicate, to be flexible and adaptable, and to always be humble.

"I trust you and know you'll do the right things for our Army and Army aviation," McHale recalled Cribbins telling him on his first day on the job. "He said 'There is one rule in this office -- no surprises. I need you to communicate across the spectrum. You've got to keep an ear to the field, to what the Soldiers need. You support the Soldiers in the fight. You must know what the issues are. I want you to really understand what's going on.'"

Cribbins told McHale that the Aviation Logistics Office would always have a position on the issues, but that conditions will change in relation to budget, technology and other matters, and that "we must be able to look at ourselves and ask 'Does our point need to be changed.'"

Even while he was working to support high level decisions pertaining to Army aviation, McHale was still required to take care of office responsibilities as directed, such as unlocking 14 safes every morning, making coffee for the office and cleaning out coffee cups on designated weeks, and providing assistance with any of office's mundane jobs.

"We are all servants. We are serving and giving what's needed for the Army," McHale said.
McHale went on to describe Chapman, saying she was known as "Mom" for her caring heart.

She started working at the Pentagon at age 17, was the daughter of an Army officer and was married to an Army officer. She, too, taught the young McHale many life lessons about building relationships, treating others with dignity and respect, doing the homework to become a subject matter expert, and being prepared at a moment's notice to brief decision makers.

"Be value added to any team you are playing with," McHale said Chapman taught him. "She always wanted to be part of the team and to help us out. She always wanted to be there when the page was blank. She wanted to assist and she wanted to make sure her people were successful.

"And she taught me that you've got to have fun. We deal with enough stress every day. There's got to be some fun. Fun to her was to get things done around the Army, to make things happen."

Cribbins and Chapman enjoyed working with others who "shared the same values of integrity, honor and getting the job done for our troops," McHale said. "They had strong moral courage, conviction and worked very hard. They were a big part of Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and a critical part of Army aviation for many years."

And with that, McHale announced to a surprised audience that he wanted to instigate the aviation association's Carolyn Chapman award by presenting the first such award to Linda Cosgray, administrative assistant to Maj. Gen. Tim Crosby, program executive officer for aviation.

A "totally surprised" Cosgray was congratulated by Crosby and the aviation association's local chapter president Gary Nenninger.

"I'm really proud of all she's done for Army aviation," Crosby said.

By Army Kari Hawkins, Redstone Arsenal
Army News Service
Copyright 2012

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