Army Aviation Hall of Fame adds three at March 30th ceremony in Nashville
On Monday, March 30th, the Army Aviation Association of America (Quad-A) will host its annual Army Aviation Hall of Fame dinner and ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee. The black-tie gala takes place in the ballroom of the Gaylord Grand Ole Opryland Hotel and Resort, site of the 2015 Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit taking place from March 29-31. Three of Army Aviation’s finest will be honored for their exemplary contributions and service to Army Aviation, our Armed Forces, and our nation. The physical Army Aviation Hall of Fame is housed at Ft. Rucker, Alabama.
As I am the ceremony director for Quad-A, I am a bit biased, but believe our Army Aviators – past and present - do not get enough recognition for their dedication, courage, and sacrifice. Their essential role to the defense of freedom, with soldiering at its core, is as inherently dangerous as it is not so glamorous. Not only do Army Aviators rarely get noticed, their work is often covert by necessity. One fairly recent case-in-point: much of the reporting about the raid to kill Bin Laden neglected to mention it was our U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (aka the “Night Stalkers”) that provided Navy Seal Team Six the transpo in and out of that unfriendly territory. That said, the Night Stalkers revel in the anonymity. It’s their job. I appreciate that they do it so well, even if I never know that they did it.
This year’s Army Aviation Hall of Fame inductees are:
The late LTC Paul A. Bloomquist - In 1964, Bloomquist first distinguished himself as an Army medevac helicopter pilot in Vietnam, where by extending his tours he served for nearly 35 months (21 months of which he was flying missions daily). As a “Dust Off” pilot of a Bell UH-1 Huey, “Big Bear” Bloomquist earned legendary status among the combat troops and especially the American advisors at isolated outposts he served, no matter the enemy situation or weather. If the call went out for “Dust Off!” Bloomquist would go. His “mission first” attitude inspired younger pilots in his unit to emulate his example. The first of his four DFC’s earned during his Vietnam service (not to mention three Purple Hearts) was for June 21, 1964 action during which he was wounded but continued to fly rescue missions into the day and night– nearly thirteen continuous hours – seeking care for his own injuries only after he was sure all the wounded had been evacuated. Tragically, he was among the victims of the infamous Baader Meinhof gang, perishing in the terrorist bombing of V Corps HQ in Frankfurt, Germany, on May 11, 1972.
CW5 Karl H. Maier – Maier joined the 160th “Night Stalkers” in 1987, early in his career as an Army Aviator. His involvement in every combat operation since that time places him at the top of the Special Ops experience. This includes Operations Just Cause, Desert Storm, Uphold Democracy, and Joint Endeavor. He deployed five times to Operation Iraqi Freedom and seven times to Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. In 1993, while deployed to Somalia as the primary planner and flight lead for Operation Gothic Serpent, Maier led the recovery operations of personnel injured during what is widely known today simply as “Black Hawk Down.” Navigating an MH-6 “Little Bird” to a tight landing between houses, his co-pilot left the ship to tend to the wounded while Maier held off the numerically superior force of bad guys by firing his machine gun through his door opening. Expending hundreds of rounds on the advancing enemy while maneuvering the Little Bird to shield the extraction, he enabled his co-pilot to rescue two critically wounded soldiers. It earned Maier the Silver Star. Retiring in 2014, his 38 years of active service include pioneering Night Vision Goggle combat use, training and mentoring hundreds of Army Aviators, and revolutionizing Army effectiveness on the battlefield.