The Flying Apache Family

Article excerpt

CAMP TAJI, Iraq -

"Without a doubt, I'm the proudest man on earth," said Capt. Dennis McNamara, an AH-64 Apache Longbow attack helicopter pilot for the 8th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment, an Army Reserve unit located at Fort Knox, Ky.

McNamara is currently stationed here, where he flies Apaches alongside his daughter, Capt. Elizabeth 'McNamara, 28, and his son, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brendon McNamara, 24.

The AH-64 Apache is a mean machine, heavily armed with Hellfire missiles, 2.75-inch rockets and a 30 mm M230 chain gun. The aircraft is a formidable force in the skies over Iraq, performing such tasks as reconnaissance, convoy protection and air support for ground units.

The 8th Bn., 229th Avn. Regt. Flying Tigers and its Apaches are currently attached to the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade, which is on a yearlong deployment to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn. The brigade is performing full spectrum aviation operations in the country, and the battalion is its attack arm.

Dennis McNamara served 1 2 years on active duty with the Army before taking a full-time position at Fort Knox with the 8th Bn., 229th Avn. Regt. After 1 1 years with the unit, he moved to California to take a job with the Boeing Corporation, while switching over to a Reserve unit in amitos, Calif.

Dennis was at home in Helendale, Calif, when he learned that his son and daughter were deploying to Iraq with his old unit.

"I couldn't see both my children deploying and leaving me at home," he said. He called the unit's commander, Lt. Col. James Posey, and asked to rejoin the battalion for the deployment.

"Dennis McNamara and I have worked together for several years, so I considered it an honor to have his children serving in my command, and I welcomed his return to the unit," Posey said. "When the chance presented itself for him to deploy with us, I was a little concerned with having over half die Family in my unit, in a combat zone, and all flying the same aircraft. We quickly decided they could not fly togetiier while here, but at least they could all serve in the same area together."

Dennis McNamara has been flying Apaches for more than 20 years now. He served in Operation Desert Storm and in Operation Iraqi Freedom. But for his son and daughter, this deployment was their first.

Elizabeth and Brendon, who both call Louisville, Ky., home, said having their father with them has its advantages, giving them an extra "support element" while here.

Elizabeth is a platoon leader in her battalion. She said her father knows a thing or two about leadership. Her father had been a warrant officer in the unit when he was made a company commander due to a vacancy. He did such a good job of it that at age 44 he was offered a direct commission and became a second lieutenant right at the time Elizabeth was completing ROTC at the University of Kentucky.

With Elizabeth now in a command position, her father offers her advice and gives her critiques on her leadership style. They often talk while eating together at the dining faculty or while hanging out when off duty.

Brendon, as a warrant officer, is a technical expert on flying, and he and his father often discuss tactics. His father is serving as an instructor pilot for the unit, so talking about flying comes with the territory. Their containerized housing units are close to each other, and they often hit the gym together. So despite being on different schedules, there are plenty of chances for Brendon to talk to Dad - not to mention salute him, and his big sister too.

Capt. Dennis McNamara said his children were "Army brats" who spent much of their childhoods around airfields, aircraft and helicopter pilots.

"Elizabeth, at four years old, told me that she would fly Apaches when she grew up," he said. "At the time, women weren't allowed to fly Apaches, so I encouraged her but didn't really think that would happen. …