FORT HOOD — In its short eight-year existence, 4th “Long Knife” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, accomplished its mission, said final Long Knife commander Col. William Benson.

For the 10th and final time, the brigade cased its colors at a Thursday morning ceremony on Cooper Field.

“This deactivation is both fitting and warranted,” Benson said. “Specifically, (this brigade) was formed to provide troops to the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Of the brigade’s 96 months in existence, 47 were spent during three deployments to Iraq and one deployment to Afghanistan. Thousands of soldiers deployed under the unit’s colors, and 38 paid the ultimate sacrifice.

First Sgt. Fernando Fernandez was there when 4th Brigade Combat Team was activated at Fort Bliss, and he was there Thursday as the Long Knife stood down.

“It was unique showing up to a unit that had nothing,” he said. “We had to borrow paper, everything.”

He came to Long Knife as a sergeant first class — the first one in the brigade — in April 2005 and spent a total of six years with the unit. He missed the brigade’s second deployment for a stint with First Army Division West. He even recalled when the brigade’s first commander, then Col. Stephen Twitty, held a contest to name the brigade.

“I experienced history; it’s one of the things I’ll always remember,” Fernandez said. “All of my combat experience has all been with this brigade.”

He is currently the Long Knife’s Headquarters and Headquarters Troop’s top noncommissioned officer and will remain part of the provisional brigade through January to see personnel and equipment distributed among Fort Hood and Army units.

“This brigade was established for war ... during a time of American conflict and I was part of it,” he said.

Also casing their colors Thursday were 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment; 27th Brigade Support Battalion; and 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion. Long Knife’s three maneuver elements will join the division’s other brigade combat teams — 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment was reflagged a battalion and moved to 2nd Brigade; 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment joined 1st Brigade; and 3rd Brigade received 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment.

Long Knife was one of 10 brigade combat teams announced in June to inactivate by 2017 as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011. Benson has been reassigned to III Corps.

“The dedication, devotion, duty, valor, professional and selfless service of the soldiers on the field today and those that preceded them in the Long Knife Brigade are unparalleled,” said Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, division commander. “Let’s take a brief moment to show our gratitude as they stand before us one final time. ... Your legacy and greatness will forever live in the rolls of Army history.”

Long Knife: A force forged in war

  • Oct. 18, 2005: brigade activated at Fort Bliss
  • October 2006 - December 2007: 1st deployment to Iraq; last soldier returned on Christmas Eve
  • March 4, 2008: cased colors at Fort Bliss and moved to Fort Hood
  • June 2008 - June 2009: 2nd deployment to Iraq
  • September 2010 - September 2011: 3rd deployment to Iraq
  • October 2012 - July 2013: 1st deployment to Afghanistan
  • June 25: inactivation announced
  • Oct. 17: inactivation ceremony

— Compiled by brigade public affairs

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here. You can contact Rose L. Thayer at or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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