The 23rd Gruppo flies again!
Exactly 100 years after its initial activation, Aeronautica Militare's 23rd Gruppo celebrated last September 5, with an official ceremony on October 30, its reactivation within 15th Stormo “Stefano Cagna”, based in Cervia-Pisignano.
The 23rd Gruppo (motto: “Come Veltri Ch’Uscisser Di Catena” - "Like Greyhounds Escaping Their Chains") will fly the HH 101A CAESAR, a three-engined multirole medium helicopter in the 15-ton class assigned to the 15th Stormo since 2015, in special operation support missions, for slow-moving aircraft interception and for Combat SAR/Personnel Recovery missions, supplementing the ’83rd Group's CSAR HH 139's. (motto: “A I Vag Me” - "I'm Going"). A solemn yet agile ceremony, imbued with great enthusiasm and emotion, marked the reactivation of the Gruppo, founded July 8, 1918 in Treviso and then continually operational on all fronts until the armistice of ’43; reactivated in 1957 with F 86K's in Pisa-San Giusto, it was based there until ’64 when it relocated to Rimini and lastly to Cervia-Pisignano in 1995, initially with the F 104S/ASA-M and then since 2004 and until its second deactivation in 2010 with the F-16 ADF leased for Program Peace Caesar.
Before the new 15° Stormo Commander, Col. Diego Sismondini, all military and civil Stormo personnel witnessed the symbolic passing of the baton between Col. Mauro Gnutti, the Veltri's last Commander in 2010, and Lt.Col. Cristian Di Matteo, the new Gruppo Volo's Commander, as represented by the historic pennat with a Greyhound across a Sidewinder. The Commanders' speeches all recognised and praised the Group personnel's skills and professionalism, and expressed the hope that all personnel would continue striving for the traditionally high operational standards of the Unit.
On this occasion the Group's motto very accurately described the enthusiasm caused by this historic Unit's reactivation after 8 years since last inactivated, now part of the AM' largest Unit, consisting of seven Groups spread over the whole Country.
This same enthusiasm transpired visibly from the Officers' and NCO's smiling faces during the obligatory (formal and less-so) picture taking sessions after the ceremony, and from the camaraderie that informed the well appointed buffet set up inside an aircraft shelter. The following visit to the GEA (Gruppo Efficienza Aeromobili) hangar allowed al participants to get acquanited with the large HH 101A Caesars in various stages of maintenance work, in a rare all-access mode, and to satisfy (almost) all curiosity about the aircraft thanks to the Specialists' availability.
The author would like to thanks the Col. Sismondini, the Lt.Col. Di Matteo, the Capt. Agostinelli , the Capt. Sorgente and the Lt. Brusasco.
Text and images by Fabio Castelvetri
Produced by Giorgio Ciarini