Just a few months after its activation at Fort Benning, Georgia on June 18, 1965, the 12th Aviation Group had been deployed to Vietnam and increased in size to 11,000 and 34 aviation units. Commanding non-organic Army aviation units, the 12th Aviation Group was the largest unit of this type to serve in a combat role. Between its arrival and 1973, the unit officially took part in 17 campaigns and garnered a Presidential Unit Citation, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, and a Valorous Unit Award.

Following the Vietnam War, found itself as a major subordinate command for the XVIII Airborne Corps (Fort Bragg), V United States Corp before deploying to Germany to serve in the same role for V United States Corps in 1979. Its medium- and heavy-lift aircraft were deployed to Cyprus in support of the Beirut Air Bridge, a system of administrative and logistical support for the U.S. Embassy in Beirut that began in 1984 following the bombing of the Marine Corps barracks and astonishingly lasted until 1998. During this period, (1987), the Group was redesignated the 12th Aviation Brigade.

In addition to supporting Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-1991, the brigade’s units have been deployed on several occasions in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Peacekeeping and humanitarian missions have included Operations Provide Comfort (Kurdistan), Joint Endeavor and Joint Guard (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and Allied Force (Kosovo). In 2006, the brigade was redesignated as the 12 Combat Aviation Brigade, and is currently headquartered in Katterbach, Bavaria.

A mythological griffin—a creature with the head and wings of an eagle but the body of a lion—superimposed on a fire with twelve tongues of flame is the imagery employed in the CSIB, or Combat Service Identification Badge, of the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. In heraldry, griffins embody courage, speed, and vigilance, all qualities exhibited the brigade. In addition to denoting the numerical designation of the unit through twelve flames, fire is symbolic of combat and brings to mind the quick-strike capabilities of aerial attack. The brigade’s Unit Crest, or Distinctive Unit Insignia, also draws upon mythology vis-à-vis the legend of the phoenix. It also displays the unit's motto, Ad Excelsum Conamur—"Strive For Excellence."

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