By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Fort Hood Herald
The crowd cheered Friday as soldiers carried stacks of traditional cavalry Stetsons out onto the 1st Cavalry Division’s parade field.
The black felt hats were given to commanders, senior noncommissioned officers and command team from the 4th Brigade Combat Team during a re-flagging.
“You sure look good in those Stetsons,” joked Brig. Gen. (promotable) Vincent K. Brooks, 1st Cavalry commander, following his comments on Friday.
The event was part of an epic re-shuffling process by the Army. The 1st Cavalry’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, located at Fort Bliss, was re-flagged as a brigade under the 1st Armored Division.
Friday’s ceremony was to mark the move of the 4th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade to the 1st Cavalry. The 4th Infantry’s 4th Brigade will re-form at Fort Carson, Colo.
Though the process involves a lot of ceremonies, re-flagging and uncasing, not much will change for the soldiers or equipment at each post. Unit designations will change and the former 4th Infantry soldiers will now wear the big 1st Cavalry patch instead of the Ivy leaves, but they and their equipment will stay in Central Texas.
Lt. Col. (promotable) Dave Thompson, 4th Infantry’s rear detachment commander, relayed a message from the division’s commander in Iraq.
“You are getting one great deal,” Maj. Gen. Jeffery W. Hammond said to the 1st Cavalry.
Brooks welcomed the soldiers, calling it a historic day for both divisions. He joked about saying similar words earlier that week at the Fort Bliss ceremony.
He applauded the former 4th Infantry unit, saying its soldiers operated in some of the most notorious areas of Baghdad and added to the prestige of the 4th Infantry. The brigade deployed with the 4th Infantry to Iraq in 2006 and is set to deploy again later this year. The soldiers spent a month at Fort Irwin, Calif.’s National Training Center late in 2007 and are set to deploy to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., starting next month.
Former 4th Brigade soldiers at Fort Bliss re-flagged under the 1st Armored Division during a ceremony earlier this week. The entire armored division is scheduled to arrive at Fort Bliss in 2012, and should bring 37,000 more soldiers to the post, according to information from 1st Armored public affairs.
The move is all just a matter of learning the new traditions, said Traci Cook, wife of Maj. Nate Cook, executive officer for the former 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, now the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment.
The Cooks have been at Fort Hood for a while and know about the 1st Cavalry, and Traci said on Friday she was excited to finally be a part of that tradition.
“And we got the Stetson,” she said with a smile.
The brigade has been in a state of transition since its soldiers returned from Iraq late in 2006. Fort Hood’s components of the 4th Infantry were preparing for another deployment, its Headquarters and Special Troops Battalion leaving in late 2007, and the 1st Cavalry was in Iraq.
It does feel nice finally coming home, Traci said.
Soldiers and families will use the 1st Cavalry’s soldier and family readiness center instead of the 4th Infantry’s, according to information from 4th Infantry public affairs. Families won’t have to get their children new identification cards or move and children will go to the same schools, said Lonni Maddux, family readiness support assistant for the new 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, formerly known as 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment.
Soldiers are accustomed to change, said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Webster, executive director of the 1st Cavalry Division Association.
Soldiers adapt to the histories and traditions of their new units, and the 4th Infantry and 1st Cavalry are perfect examples of two units with rich tradition and history, he said. During a troop inspection at the ceremony, Brooks, Thompson, and Col. Philip Battaglia, 4th Brigade commander, rode in a half-track vehicle as an homage to the 4th Infantry.
Next time it’ll be on horseback, Brooks joked to Battaglia.
The 1st Cavalry’s Horse Cavalry Detachment joined the formations on the field once the brigade was officially re-flagged under the First Team, and the troopers performed a traditional cavalry charge at the end of the ceremony.
Maj. Curt Taylor joins his older brother, Maj. Scott Taylor in the 1st Cavalry. The younger Taylor is the brigade’s operations officer and said his new division has a “superb” reputation. What its soldiers accomplished as head of Multinational Division-Baghdad in 2007 is truly amazing. As Taylor spoke more of the division’s accomplishments, another officer interrupted him and shook his hand.
“Welcome to the First Team, Curt,” the officer said.
Moving to the 1st Cavalry is significant to Command Sgt. Maj. Edwin Rodriguez, the brigade’s senior noncommissioned officer.
“It means I’ve served in the two best divisions in the Army,” he said following Friday’s ceremony.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7547
Spc. Creighton Holub of 1st Cavalry Division public affairs and Spc. Bradley J. Clark of 1st Armored Division public affairs contributed to this story.