2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment was originally constituted on 18 April 1963, in the regular Army as Company Bravo, 3rd Aviation Battalion, an element of the 3rd Infantry Division. The battalion was activated 15 July 1963, in the Federal Republic of Germany where it served with honor through 5 June 1967, and later from 21 August 1978 to 16 August 1987. On 16 August 1987, the unit was reorganized and redesignated as the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation, an element of the 3rd Infantry Division. Following the end of the Gulf War, the battalion was reorganized as an attack helicopter battalion and was equipped with the AH-64 Apache helicopter. On 15 July 1993, the battalion was inactivated during the Army-wide drawdown and subsequently reactivated on 16 February 1996 as a General Support Aviation Battalion at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, as part of the reflagging of the 24th Infantry Division to the 3rd Infantry Division.
In recent history, the unit has been at the forefront of Army Aviation. 2-3 Aviation supported operations BAHAMAS, TURKS, CAICOS (OPBAT), US SOUTHCOM Counter Narcotics Mission in the Caribbean through 2001; deployed to Bosnia Herzegovina in support of SFOR 8 and 9; participated in BRIGHT STAR '97 and '99 in Egypt; OPERATION DESERT THUNDER in Kuwait; two OPERATION WEEDEATER counterdrug deployments to Trinidad and Tobago as well as numerous rotations to the National Training Center.
In August 2002, 2-3 Aviation deployed four UH-60s to Kuwait to support OPERATION DESERT SPRING, the rest of the battalion followed in January 2003 in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. The Knighthawks played an integral part of 3rd Infantry Division's attack into Iraq in March 2003. From June to August 2003, Task Force Knighthawk was formed, utilizing two OH-58D Air Troops from 3-7 Cavalry and a UH-60 Blackhawk Company to support combat operations in Al Fallujah, Iraq. In January 2005, 2-3 Aviation deployed again to Iraq in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM III. The battalion's mission included VIP support, combat assaults, heavy and medium lift support, aircraft recovery and the daily movement needs of the division command group and staff. The battalion was the primary movement support unit for the Iraqi government and routinely moved the prime minister, president and key cabinet members throughout the combat theater. The battalion flew 11,265 combat hours, transported 101,837 passengers, moved over 10 million pounds of equipment, conducted 23 combat assaults resulting in the capture of over 50 insurgent leaders and completed 4,127 missions without the loss of one Soldier or piece of equipment.
The battalion redeployed in January 2006. After a brief rest and refit, the battalion was called upon to deploy for OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM V. On 5 May 2007, the unit departed Hunter Army Airfield for a 15 month tour out of Baghdad, Iraq. Upon arrival to the theater of operations, this large and complex general support aviation battalion (GSAB) worked around the clock to position over 730 Soldiers at seven different locations throughout Iraq.
The battalion's assets provided critical capabilities as they engaged in multiple, high priority missions, to include division command group support, air assault, medical evacuation and medium/heavy lift support. The Knighthawks participated in countless operations and flew over 24,000 hours, the air traffic services company controlling 185,000 aircraft movements, transporting 110,000 passengers, moving over 20 million pounds of cargo, completion of over 6,000 air mission requests, the evacuation of over 4,300 patients and conducting 40 air assaults. The Knighthawks returned safely with all of its personnel and equipment in late July 2008.
From July 2008 to November 2009, the Knighthawks began preparing for their next deployment. In July 2009, Task Force Knighthawk was formed adding an Attack Helicopter Company and Scout Helicopter Troop to the already robust 2-3 GSAB. On 18 November 2009 Task Force Knighthawk embarked on a 12 month deployment to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) X/XI. As the largest and most diverse aviation task force in Afghanistan, Task Force Knighthawk immediately began providing expert rotary wing aviation support to Regional Command East with its Soldiers spread across nine separate locations.
Task Force Knighthawk instantly became the center of gravity for the brigade and all rotary wing operations in RC-East, supporting the ground force commander by providing full spectrum aviation operations throughout RC-East in support of CJTF-82, CJTF-101, ISAF, IJC and US Forces Afghanistan. Upon redeployment, Task Force Knighthawk accumulated over 37,000 hours flown, transported over 78,000 passengers, moved over 5.1 million pounds of cargo, evacuated over 4,500 patients and conducted over 150 named deliberate operations, removing at least 169 insurgents from the battlefield, including nine JPELs. In November 2010, the Knighthawks safely returned to Hunter Army Airfield with 100% accountability of personnel and equipment.
From July 2011 to November 2012, the Knighthawks prepared for their next deployment to Afghanistan. On 1 December 2012, the Knighthawks entered theater for a 9 month deployment to Kandahar Airfield in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) XIII/XIV. 2-3 GSAB once again expanded to form Task Force Knighthawk by adding a Heavy Lift Company and a MEDEVAC Company. Spread across seven locations, Task Force Knighthawk was once again the largest and most diverse aviation task force in Afghanistan, providing expert rotary wing aviation support to Regional Command-South.
Only just over halfway through the deployment, Task Force Knighthawk has supported the vast majority of all rotary wing operations in RC-South (over 87%), once again supporting the ground force commander by providing full spectrum aviation operations throughout the region in support of CJTF-3, ISAF, IJC and US Forces Afghanistan. Task Force Knighthawk has thus far flown over 14,931 combat hours, transported over 3,501 different passengers, and moved over a million pounds of cargo. They have evacuated over 355 patients and conducted over 277 named deliberate operations, removing at least 30 High Value and JPEL targets from the battlefield and confiscating over 1,075 small arms and 20,000 pounds of Homemade Explosives (HME).