12th Chemical Company inactivates after 96 years
June 12, 2013
SCHWEINFURT, Germany (June 12, 2013) -- Schweinfurt's 12th Chemical Company cased its colors here June 10, signifying the inactivation of the U.S. Army-Europe's last remaining chemical company.
The company commander, Capt. Sarah McKay, said goodbye and expressed gratitude to the Soldiers and leadership that performed chemical operations in a unit whose service goes back nearly a hundred years.
"As the only chemical company in Europe, our expertise was utilized by both civilian and military organizations throughout EUCOM, ensuring that our legacy will not soon be forgotten," she said.
The 12th Chemical Company has fought in several campaigns since it was constituted Aug. 15, 1917. Originally a gas and flame regiment, the unit earned the nickname "Hellfire." The company's storied history includes missions to Marne, Saint Miguel and Muess-Argonne.
The unit deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II in 2004, where it executed force protections missions on two forward operating bases. More recently, the unit was on a 12-month prepare-to-deploy order in support of Operation New Dawn. Serving under 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, the unit moved from Grafenwoehr to Schweinfurt Aug. 15, 2009.
McKay took command in June 2011, serving alongside 1st Sgt. Rahsaan Harris and Sgt. 1st Class Michael Habel.
Guest speaker Lt. Col. Michelle Letcher, battalion commander of 18th CSSB, recognized the unit's accomplishments, but acknowledged the need for closure for the Soldiers and the command team.
"The time has come to close the book on this chapter and become part of a bigger story," Letcher said.
While a handful of Soldiers will transition to other posts in Germany, most will go back to the U.S. and apply their unique skills in other units.
"Their expertise in the field of bio-detection will be invaluable for most as they head to units fielding the [Nuclear, Biological, Chemical, Reconnaissance] Stryker Vehicles as well as those headed to Tech Escort units," McKay said.
Although the inactivation is bittersweet, Capt. McKay said the unit and the command team have been fortunate throughout her time as commander.
"It's amazing how much support and love 12th Chem gets," McKay said. "I am really proud of my Soldiers."