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Historic U.S. Army Artillery Brigade Inactivates

The U.S. Army’s first field artillery brigade of its kind has cased its colors for the last time.

By Spec. Stephen Baack / 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs

BAMBERG, Germany, Feb. 23, 2006 – After nearly a century of committed service to the nation, the U.S. Army’s first field artillery brigade of its kind has cased its colors for the last time.

The 1st Infantry Division Artillery Brigade inactivated during a ceremony inside the Freedom Fitness Facility at Warner Barracks here Feb. 15, after having been at the post since 1996.

"Rather than mourning the 'end of an era,' this moment is, to the contrary, a moment for celebration — the celebration of a job well done and the celebration of an opportunity to be part of the transformation of our entire service."

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hunzeker

Originally constituted as the 1st Field Artillery Brigade in 1917, the unit participated in multiple campaigns and operations during World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War, and operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Since its move to Germany, elements from the unit have also participated in operations in Kosovo and Bosnia, as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“Rather than mourning the 'end of an era,' this moment is, to the contrary, a moment for celebration — the celebration of a job well done and the celebration of an opportunity to be part of the transformation of our entire service,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hunzeker, 1st Infantry Division commanding general, who gave opening remarks at the ceremony.

While many of the unit’s soldiers will move on to different formations throughout the Army, 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment is slated to support 1st ID’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team during its scheduled deployment to Iraq within the coming months. In addition, 1st Battalion, 33rd

Field Artillery Regiment will become the Airborne Artillery Battalion, providing support to the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy, but will remain at Warner Barracks for the time being.Earlier in the day, the brigade's 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment cased its own colors in a separate ceremony in the same facility.

“This is transformation right before your eyes,” said Hunzeker. “The Big Red One (1st Infantry Division) is changing its structure to meet new challenges, but we are committed to holding the legacy of the entire division close to our hearts.”

Also providing remarks during the ceremony was U.S. Army Col. Walter Gilliam, brigade commander. He is slated to assist in the division’s return to Fort Riley, Kan., later this year.

“It’s one of the toughest things I’ve ever done in the almost 25 years I’ve been serving,” Gilliam said. “I’ve been part of other organizations that, for one reason or another, were disbanded or reflagged, but this has clearly been the toughest thing I’ve ever done. We’ve got tremendous soldiers here in the organization, and the good thing about that is these great talents will be going to other units throughout the Army and continue to do great things.”

As the unit's 63rd and last commander, Gilliam led the unit through a reorganization after its soldiers returned from Iraq last year, which was a high point for him, he said. U.S. Army Col. Richard Longo, the former commander, is the last one to have led the unit into combat.

“There is a bit of sadness for me because I think of the legacy that these soldiers have left over the past 89 years, but their performance in Operation Iraqi Freedom, if it is the last thing that they do, then it’s a great legacy they will have left,” Longo said.

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Apr. 23, 2014
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