By Sgt. Kelsey L. Miller, 1st BCT, 1st AD Public Affairs:
(El Paso, Texas. Nov. 22, 2017)
Soldiers assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, spanned the length of Ready First Field during the brigade’s uncasing ceremony here Friday. The ceremony officially marked the brigade’s return from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan and signified its return to garrison operations.
The uncasing ceremony is a timeless Army tradition that serves two distinct purposes. The first is that it gives the commander a chance to assess the readiness and discipline of the unit. The second is to represent the official end of a unit’s mission. In the case of 1st BCT, it meant the end of operations in Afghanistan.
“We are gathered today to uncase your colors, having accomplished your mission with incredible success,” said Brig. Gen. Mark H. Landes, deputy commander, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss. “I am proud of every Ready First Soldier who is standing here today. All of you put service to your country, service to your families, and service to every American citizen over your own personal safety. Your sacrifice and willingness to accomplish the mission is the reason our nation is so great.”
Col. Eric S. Strong, commander, 1st BCT, 1st AD, and Command Sgt. Maj. Eugene Russell, the brigade’s senior enlisted leader, uncased the brigade’s colors. The individual battalion and squadron commanders then repeated the process, uncasing their individual unit’s colors.
Lt. Col. Dwight Domengeaux and Command Sgt. Maj. Joshua Bitle uncased the 6th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment’s colors; Lt. Col. Dustin Mitchell and Command Sgt. Maj. Derek Clifton uncased the 4th Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment’s colors; Lt. Col. Stephen Phillips and Command Sgt. Maj. Derrick Garner uncased the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment’s colors; and Lt. Col. William Tolbert and Command Sgt. Maj. Willie Murphy uncased the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment’s colors.
The brigade’s journey began earlier this year when approximately one third of the brigade left Fort Bliss and arrived in Afghanistan to take charge of a sophisticated mission there. Partnering with the Afghan government, the brigade worked to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to prevent terrorist safe havens and create safer living conditions for the people of Afghanistan.
“During your deployment, you spearheaded more than 1,600 Ground Defense and Force Protection missions, and conducted 2,673 Guardian Angel missions which helped to ensure the safety of U.S. advisers while they worked with their Afghan counterparts,” Landes said. “Your work dealt a significant blow to the efforts of the Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan.”
Although most of the brigade returned from Afghanistan, Pvt. 1st Class Hansen Kirkpatrick paid the ultimate sacrifice while accomplishing the mission his nation requested of him. His legacy will forever live on in the Ready First Brigade, at Fort Bliss and in the El Paso community.
While some of the brigade was deployed, two thirds of the brigade remained at Fort Bliss, to include the entire 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, and those Soldiers continued to focus on readiness and training in preparation for whatever the nation may have asked or will ask in the future.
“Soldiers and families of Ready First; you are truly exceptional,” Landes said. “I am glad that you are together again and ready to face the next mission with the same incredible resolve you’ve demonstrated over the last nine months. You are why this Army is successful, and I have nothing but respect for everything you have done. Iron Soldiers! Army Strong!”