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
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.
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
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."
"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
"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
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
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
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
"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
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."
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.
surprised" Cosgray was congratulated by Crosby and the
aviation association's local chapter president Gary
"I'm really proud of all she's done for
Army aviation," Crosby said.
By Army Kari Hawkins, Redstone Arsenal
Army News Service
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