18th Aviation Brigade (United States)

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18th Aviation Brigade
18thAVN BDE SSI.png
18th Aviation Brigade shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 1987–2006
Country United States
Branch U.S. Army
Part of XVIII Airborne Corps
Garrison/HQ Simmons Army Airfield, Fort Bragg
Nickname(s) Black Barons (Special Designation)[1]
Equipment AH-64
Engagements Vietnam War
Grenada Invasion Operation Urgent Fury
Operation Just Cause
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Decorations Meritorious Unit Commendation
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry
Vietnam Civil Action Medal
Distinctive Unit Insignia 18thAVN BDE DUI.svg
Beret Flash 018 Aviation Brigade Flash.png

The 18th Aviation Brigade ("Black Barons"[1]) is an inactive aviation brigade of the United States Army. Its initial formation in 1987 drew upon the resources of the 269th Aviation Battalion, originally formed in 1966.

The 269th Aviation Battalion served with the 12th Aviation Group in South Vietnam from 28 January 1967 to 15 April 1971, being located at Củ Chi Base Camp. It primarily supported the 25th Infantry Division.[2]

On 17 August 1987, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 18th Aviation Brigade, was activated. On 1 September 1987, the 269th Aviation Battalion was reorganized and redesignated as the 18th Aviation Brigade (Corps)(Airborne). The brigade has since participated in Operation Prime Chance in the Persian Gulf, Operation Just Cause in Panama, and "Desert Shield and Storm" in Southwest Asia, and Hurricane Andrew Relief in Southern Florida.

An 18th Aviation Brigade UH-1H during "Desert Shield", 1990

On the first day of the Gulf War 24 February 1991, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) began its attack with its AH-64s, AH-1s, 60 UH-60s and 40 CH-47s augmented by the XVIII Airborne Corps' 18th Aviation Brigade and began lifting the 1st Brigade into what became Forward Operating Base (FOB) Cobra, 93 miles (150 km) into Iraq and halfway to the Euphrates River. Over three hundred helicopter sorties ferried the troops and equipment into the objective area in the largest heliborne operation in military history. Four of the Ch-47D Chinooks from A Co 2/159th were temporarily assigned to the 82nd airborne for the war but were released after the first day of the ground war and after objectives on MSR Texas were completed and their assistance’s along with the rest of the Battalion was needed elsewhere in theatre supporting the 101st, 24ID and 82nd when called.

The other operation the brigade administered in the Gulf was the activities of Task Force 118, the former Operation Prime Chance force. TF 118, or 4th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, as it became on 15 January 1991, operated armed OH-58Ds off U.S. Navy warships.[3]

An undated listing on Globalsecurity.org, seemingly for the early 2000s, said the brigade's units included two active, and eight National Guard battalions.[4] The active units were:

  • 1st Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment
  • 2nd Battalion , 159th Aviation Regiment
  • 1st Battalion, 58th Aviation Regiment

The National Guard units were:

1/126th Avn Regiment (RI, NC, SC)

The 18th Aviation Brigade was also deployed to Iraq from October 2004 to October 2005. This was the last time the brigade was deployed as a unit. The unit supplied aviation assets all across Iraq, ranging from combat missions to service and support missions. As part of an Army-wide restructuring, the brigade was deactivated shortly after its return from Iraq in March 2006. Although designated as an airborne unit, parachute qualification was not a prerequisite for assignment to the brigade and many, if not most, in the brigade were not jump-qualified.


  1. ^ a b "Special Unit Designations". United States Army Center of Military History. 21 April 2010. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  2. ^ Shelby Stanton, Vietnam Order of Battle, Stackpole Books, 2003, 119.
  3. ^ Thomas D. Dinackus, Order of Battle: Allied Ground Forces of Operation Desert Storm, Hellgate Press/PSI Research, 2000, Chart 4–24
  4. ^ 18th Aviation Brigade (Airborne), Globalsecurity.org.