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.