Eighteen of the U.S. Army's newest attack helicopters, the Apache, will become part of the Utah National Guard, it was announced here Saturday as part of the annual Governor's Day/Family Day for the Guard.
Gov. Norm Bangerter, commander of the Guard, gladly accepted the new helicopter brigade, which will be attached to the 211th Aviation Group and Battalion stationed at Salt Lake City Airport No. 2.In reviewing the troops, Bangerter said the Apache mission, along with several other new assignments given to the Utah Guard this past year, shows just how much confidence the U.S. Army and Air Force have in the Utah Guard.
The day is to honor the governor and for him to review the troops. But it is really a day for the families of Utah Guard men and women to have some fun with those in military service, instead of just saying goodbye to them for a Saturday as they go off to a weekend drill.
Kids crawled on expensive military equipment, saw planes and helicopters fly over and slid down Special Forces aerial lines.
In his speech to the troops, Bangerter referred to the flap over Sen. Dan Quayle's National Guard duty during the Vietnam War, saying service in the Guard isn't second rate and those who thought they were avoiding active military duty by joining the Guard during that war were badly mistaken.
"It is and always has been honorable duty," Bangerter said. Guardsmen have always fought and died for America, the first line of reserves in war until the regular military could gear up for full-scale action, he added. Bangerter said he was proud to serve in the regular Army (during the Korean War) and in the National Guard.
The National Guard, especially the Utah Guard, is first-class service, in a first-class organization staffed by first-class men and women, Bangerter said.
Quayle, the GOP vice presidential nominee, joined the Indiana National Guard in 1969 and then entered law school while serving part time in the Guard. The Vietnam War was at its height in 1968-69. Quayle has been criticized for using Guard duty as a way to stay out of combat in Vietnam.
The AH-64A Apache helicopter is the Army's finest attack helicopter. Each cost about $7 million, has a crew of two and fires Hellfire anti-tank missiles, 70mm aerial rockets and 30mm automatic cannon.
Utah Guard Adjutant Gen. John Mathews was awarded the Legion of Merit medal by the Army for his service. Bangerter, in giving the award, said the Utah National Guard has been given so many, and such varied, assignments by the Pentagon that it now is unique among the states' Guards.