Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, III Corps and Fort Hood commander, along with approximately 250 soldiers from the III Corps Headquarters, will deploy later this summer to Kuwait and Iraq to take charge of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, the global coalition to defeat ISIS.
The deployment was marked by a color casing ceremony Friday at the III Corps and Fort Hood Headquarters flagpole. This will be III Corps’ second deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
“Today we case the III Corps colors in preparation for our deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve,” Funk said. “The Phantom Corps has a long and storied history of fighting against tyranny and oppression and standing for freedom.”
This is the eighth time the corps has deployed since being established.
“From the Argonne Forest to the Rhine River, to the streets of Baghdad and Kabul, when our nation calls, they call for America’s Hammer,” Funk said. “We are returning to the battlefields of Iraq and Syria to defeat ISIS by, with and through the coalitions from 70 nations.”
Funk said the organization the United States is fighting against is one of evil.
“Their (ISIS) brutality forces us to look deep into the heart of darkness, they condone the systematic murder of women and children, the enslavement of religious minorities and the torture and execution of captured prisoners,” Funk said. “Their very existence poses a threat to the civilized world and our way of life and they will be defeated by our collective coalition effort.”
Funk said the country was at the precipice of history as the corps is deploying at a critical time to a complex environment never seen in the nation’s history.
“We will be joining a joint coalition that is 72 nations strong; united together, we will work collectively towards our one mission — the defeat of ISIS,” Funk said.
Funk thanked the families and community friends of the corps for their steadfast love and support.
“Every time a soldier deploys, it is his or her family left behind who bears the heaviest burden and makes the greatest sacrifice,” Funk said. “We take great comfort in knowing that we are leaving our precious families in the care of our Fort Hood friends and the Central Texas communities that surround us.”
U.S. Rep. John R. Carter, R-Round Rock, attended the ceremony and said this was at least the fifth or sixth time he’s been to Fort Hood to attend a color casing ceremony.
“It always kind of grabs you patriotically — these guys are going back over there,” Carter said. “We think it’s hot here. I was over there in August four years ago — 130, so this is not hot.”
Carter said the soldiers that are deploying were heroes and offered words of encouragement to them.
“If you look at the national defense package we just passed out of the House, we are adding soldiers, we are raising the amount of money that is available, Fort Hood is going to get a lot of good things,” Carter said. “We’re getting revitalization of all of our armored equipment, and I think it tells those soldiers the American people appreciate them.”
Texas District 54 Rep. Scott Cosper was also present at the ceremony and felt inspired by the speech Funk delivered.
“It’s absolutely inspiring to be here and to hear (Lt. Gen.) Funk’s comments that he is going to continue to fight ISIS and that they are going to go, win the war, defeat ISIS and continue protecting the freedoms and interests of the United States and her allies,” Cosper said.
Cosper said the commitment of the soldiers to the nation and to the Army was astounding to him.
“Nowhere in the world can you experience the professionalism of our soldiers and the combat readiness that they are constantly working to refine to be ready whenever our nation calls for them to go into war,” Cosper said.
III Corps will be replacing the XVIII Airborne Corps as the headquarters for a scheduled 12-month deployment.