A brief ceremony was held Thursday morning on Fort Riley to case the colors of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, as they prepare to leave for a nine month rotation to the Republic of Korea.
“The flags and colors have been an important part of history — since the onset of all organized warfare,” said Col. Anthony P. Brooks, 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley, deputy commanding officer for maneuver. “In their earliest forms, flags simply offered a way for forces to communicate with each other. Over time, they signify the unit’s themselves. In the Middle Ages, kings and field commanders would order subordinates to advance the colors. Bearers would move forward and the soldiers would follow. Even through the Civil War, men would rally around their colors in the heat of battle to overwhelm the enemy. As we evolved to modern warfare, the need for large mass formations disappeared. The colors now represent the unit itself.”
Brooks emphasized the important role the colors have in a unit because there are only two occasions the Army cases a units colors.
“The first is a somber occasion, the permanent deactivation of the unit,” he said. “The second, and reason why we’re casing 2nd ABCT’s colors today, is when a unit suspends operations at home station in preparation to assume an important mission.”
Brooks spoke of the training the brigade’s soldiers have under gone in preparation for the deployment including time at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, and “braving Fort Riley’s winter weather to execute a final series of crew gunneries and live fire” at the Douthit Gunnery Complex on the north end of the installation.
“There’s not a brigade in our Army that is more prepared and ready than the Dagger Brigade,” he said. “And I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to thank our installation staff and adjacent units whose teamwork, expertise and hard work greatly facilitated the brigades training and out load. Once again, throughout load operations at Camp Funston and the port of Grays Harbor, our team demonstrated an unmatched deployment capability.”
Brooks also recognized the families of the soldiers and their continued support given to the mission of the brigade and the 1st Inf. Div.
“Simply put, your resiliency, commitment and strength allows these great men and women before us to honorably serve our Army and our nation,” he said. “You might not be wearing our nation’s uniform, but you are certainly serving through your sacrifices of separation from your loved ones — you all have my personal gratitude.”
After Brooks completed his statements, Col. Anthony T. Murtha, commander of the 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div., gave his comments, thanks and positive enforcement to the soldiers under his care.
“What you just witnessed is a time honored tradition, signifying that the brigade is shipping out,” Murtha said. “This milestone marks a new chapter in the history this storied outfit. As we embark, again, to take our colors forward in the defense of our nation — this being the fourth regionally aligned force mission for the Dagger Brigade. The only United States Army brigade to complete the global circuit, as the daggers with the first execute missions to (U.S. Africa Command), then (U.S. Central Command), (U.S. Europe Command) and now (U.S. Indo-Pacific Command).”
Prior to leaving the brigade area this morning, Murtha said he spoke to one of his soldiers and ask him to write down his thoughts about the upcoming rotation.
“Oftentimes, I get some of my best feedback from our junior troopers,” he said. “Most of them were a little groggy, understandably after about 24 hours of duty. But one soldier, Spc. Ethan Dunn, 1-63 BCO, a tank mechanic, took the time to write down his thoughts and his perspective — and it is worth sharing. He wrote:
Throughout history, it’s said that
the soul of the unit was symbolized
in the colors and the battle stream
ers attached to those colors. For
they represent the glories of the past
and protection over the present.
Our colors have been cased many,
many times over the course of our
great nation’s history. Our battle
streamers proudly affirm the dedi
cation, courage and sacrifice that
the Dagger Brigade soldiers who
have fought and died, for those
freedoms we hold near and dear.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Spc. “Dunn’s prose left me tremendously proud,” he added. “It was from the heart, and said better than I’ve ever heard. The Dagger Brigades motto is ‘Ready Now’ — and it is.”
Martha said the soldiers of the Dagger Brigade have been tested over the last 20 months with multiple field exercises, gunneries and three Combat Training Center rotations — Hohenfels, Germany; Fort Irwin, California and Fort Polk, Louisiana, in the last 20 months.
“That is remarkable, it is a testament to our soldiers — as all of these accomplishments are due solely to the tremendous effort of our soldiers, your soldiers, our nation sons and daughters who have worked tirelessly to train and prepare for this mission,” he said.
Prior to closing his comments, Murtha thanked the supporting elements of Fort Riley for their efforts in ensuring the Dagger Brigade was mission ready and capable of completing their training. He also thanked the efforts of the Old Troopers and Lady Troopers who tirelessly and selflessly give of their time to be the final face from home when the soldiers deploy from Camp Funston.
“Lastly, our deepest respect, and thanks for the Old Troopers and Lady Troopers who have tirelessly supported this installation and its soldiers, since it was a dusty old Cav outpost,” he said. “They are the last members of our community our soldiers see before they depart — serving our soldiers cookies, coffee and the last hug or handshake. A simple gesture that means more than you could ever know. Thank you and God bless you.”
To close the ceremony, the 1st Inf. Div. band played the “Big Red One Song” and “The Army Song.”