A Fort Hood regiment returned from deployment in January and one brigade began coming home.

Developments at Fort Hood in the last year included changes in commanders and tasks, as well as deployments.

The largest unit at Fort Hood, the 1st Cavalry Division, welcomed two new deputy commanders in 2018.

Brig. Gen. Miles Brown took over as deputy commander for support and Brig. Gen. Christopher R. Norrie as deputy commander for maneuver.

Elements of the division deployed and returned across the globe, with the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team returning in 2018 from a nine-month rotation to South Korea, the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team deploying to Europe for Operation Atlantic Resolve and returning starting in January 2019, and the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade returning in July

2018 from Europe, where they served as the air support for Atlantic Resolve.

The 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team wrapped up a rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, and could deploy later this year.

The division lost two soldiers to training accidents in January 2019.

Spc. Andrew S. Ortega, 32, a horizontal construction engineer with the division’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, was killed in an accident in the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany.

Spc. Octavious Deshon Lakes Jr., 22, died from injuries sustained in a tactical vehicle accident at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. He was with the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team.

The 3rd Cavalry Regiment wrapped up a nine-month deployment to Iraq supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, the effort to ensure the lasting defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, with a colors uncasing ceremony at the end of January to mark the unit’s official return to Fort Hood.

During the deployment, the “Brave Rifles” worked with the Kurdish and Iraqi Security Forces to conduct combined operations against ISIS, where they hunted down ISIS in mountain hideaways and caves, Army officials said.

The regiment’s artillery unit joined two Iraqi artillery units to work side-by-side providing fire support for operations. The troopers also worked with Iraqi artillerymen, U.S. Marines, sailors and other coalition partners to conduct fire missions from austere locations along the Iraq/Syria border, with other elements of the regiment building up the temporary firing locations from scratch.

The U.S. Army Operational Test Command saw new leadership come in as Brig. Gen. William “Hank” Taylor, a former 1st Cavalry Division deputy commander, took command and Command Sgt. Maj. William A. Justice stepped in as the senior enlisted adviser.

As the Army’s only independent operational tester, OTC tests Army, joint and multiservice warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using typical users to provide data on whether the systems are effective, suitable and survivable.

One of the major pieces of equipment tested in 2018 was the new Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, or AMPV, which is the proposed upgrade to the Army’s aging and widely used M-113 personnel carrier family of vehicles that have been in service since the Vietnam War era.

At the end of January, OTC began celebrating “50 Years of Operational Testing.”

Fort Hood’s 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command welcomed Brig. Gen. Darren L. Werner as its new commander in May during a change-of-command ceremony at Sadowski Field.

In September, the command held a memorial rededication and Gold Star ceremony at Fort Hood’s Hildner Field. The family of Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Alton Raymond Kieschnick, received recognition as a Gold Star Family during the ceremony.

Kieschnick died when the plane he was in crashed near Fort Stockton, Texas, on April 26, 1975, while returning to Fort Hood after a training event.

The ceremony was also the final event in celebrating the sustainment command’s 53rd anniversary and rededication for its memorial.

The memorial was built to honor those who lost their lives in support of the Global War on Terror while serving as part of the 13th Sustainment Command.

First Army Division West celebrated the reactivation of the 166th “Archangels” Aviation Training Brigade.

The unit was inactivated in 2015 during the Army’s drawdown, but was officially reactivated in June thanks to funding approved by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act.

The brigade is the only aviation training brigade in First Army and will provide pre-mobilization and post-mobilization training and certification for National Guard and Reserve Component aviation units, which currently consist of 48 percent of all U.S. Army aviation assets.

dbryant@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7554

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