Chris Holland Honored for Military Service in Afghanistan

Chris Holland
Ernest Rodriguez (left) presents Sutin, Thayer & Browne President and CEO Jay Rosenblum (`82) (center) with a Patriot Award, in recognition of exemplary corporate support of U.S. troops. The honor from the New Mexico Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, was awarded during a Sutin welcome-back celebration for Lt. Col. Christopher Holland (`94).

Chris Holland (`94) was recently welcomed home after a year-long deployment in Afghanistan with the New Mexico Army National Guard. Lt. Col. Holland, an accomplished helicopter pilot, was commander of a medical evacuation unit that saved lives on the battlefields of Helmand Province by transporting the wounded in Black Hawk helicopters.

During the year of deployment, Holland and his unit – Company C, 1-171st Aviation Regiment – participated in more than 1,450 missions and transported more than 1,800 patients. The 109-soldier unit operated 17 Black Hawks from four locations. Holland logged more than 150 combat flight hours as a helicopter pilot.

Holland has been wearing a military uniform since he received an ROTC scholarship to Eastern New Mexico University when he was 17. After earning a bachelor’s degree, he spent nine years in the U.S. Army, where he developed a passion for flying helicopters. He rose to the rank of captain and served in Desert Storm before leaving active duty in 1991 to attend the University of New Mexico School of Law.

In 1996, two years after earning his J.D., Holland joined Sutin, Thayer & Browne, where he focuses his practice on commercial litigation, creditors' rights, employment law, environmental litigation and university law.

Holland’s recent deployment was his third combat tour of duty. In addition to Desert Storm, he served in Iraq as a Judge Advocate General officer in 2004 and 2005. As part of his National Guard training and emergency duties, he has also helped guard the U.S.-Mexico border and, from the air, fought the Cerro Grande fire in Los Alamos in 2000.

Holland made Albuquerque news in 2005 when he was assisting Bernalillo County Sheriff’s officers in a burglary call and the helicopter he was piloting was shot down, for the first time in his flying career. He and his passenger received minor injuries, but the incident spurred him to restrict his flying activities to safer settings. Until 2011, that is, when he left for Afghanistan.

"We are incredibly proud of Chris," Sutin CEO and President Jay Rosenblum (`82) said at a firm welcome-back celebration. "We thank him and all of Charlie Company for their service, and we are immensely glad to have them safe and sound back on American soil."

The Army awarded Holland a bronze star medal in recognition of his outstanding leadership of C Company. Col. Frank Tate, commander of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, presented the medal at an April 12 ceremony in Helmand Province.

Holland is eager to get back to his law practice:  "I have answered the call of duty, and now I'm ready to return to my family and my law practice here in Albuquerque. There is nothing like a year in a combat zone to rejuvenate one's enthusiasm for the law."

June 4, 2012