7th Engineer Battalion Soldiers don 10th Mountain Division patch
June 19, 2014
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers and Family Members gathered Monday to watch as 7th Engineer Battalion officially joined 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), during a patch ceremony at Division Hill. The battalion and all five of its companies were represented on the field as their 20th Engineer Brigade patches were replaced by the 10th Mountain Division (LI) crest, marking the beginning of the realignment that will take place across the installation in the next few months.
Since Oct. 27, 2006, 7th Engineer Battalion has had a presence on Fort Drum. While it fell under the 10th Sustainment Brigade structure, the Soldiers wore the patch of the unit's higher headquarters -- 20th Engineer Brigade at Fort Bragg, N.C.
"This is a historic day as the 7th Engineer Battalion transitions from the 20th Engineer Brigade to the 10th Mountain Division," said Lt. Col. Michael Clancy, 7th Engineer Battalion commander. "I'd like to thank the 20th Engineer Brigade. Supervising a battalion from 800 miles away is not easy, and they did it well.
"The 20th Engineer Brigade is a great unit with a great history," he added. "It is bittersweet for us to take off the castle patch. We were honored to be a part of the 20th Engineer Brigade."
Clancy also thanked the 10th Sustainment Brigade's leadership and support as the battalion's "administrative headquarters" during the past eight years. He then thanked 1st Brigade Combat Team leadership for their assistance during the transition.
"We truly look forward to being members of the 'Warrior' Brigade," Clancy said. "We just celebrated the Army's 239th birthday on June 14. Some of you non-engineers in the crowd may not know that today, we celebrate the 239th birthday of the Engineer Regiment."
While the majority of the unit's Soldiers stood in formation in the field, not all were present for the ceremony.
"As we speak, 93 Soldiers with this battalion from 630th Clearance Company are in Afghanistan conducting route clearance operations," Clancy said. "They, too, are going to don the 10th Mountain Division patch later today."
While uniforms and patches change, one thing has not -- the 7th Engineers are still well-trained, prepared and dedicated to giving combat engineer support that units need to fight and win, Clancy noted.
"We are honored to be joining the 10th Mountain Division," he said. "There's no division with a better history, better resume and better list of accomplishments."
Clancy looked toward the field and instructed his Soldiers to "be ready."
"The changes will be subtle at first, but our world has changed here today," he explained. "We are going from a corps-level general combat engineer support battalion to a brigade combat team-level direct combat engineer support battalion in (one of) the most deployed divisions in the Army."
During the past eight years, the unit has been training to the standards, following the same guidance and leadership of the 10th Mountain Division, Clancy said.
"Changing our higher headquarters and our unit patch here today really only signifies what we have been in spirit -- Mountain Soldiers climbing to glory," he said.
After concluding his remarks, Clancy introduced Col. Frederick "Mark" O'Donnell, 1st BCT commander.
"I want to welcome the Soldiers and Families of the 7th Engineer Battalion," he said. "As we look into the stands and see all these spouses, it speaks volumes about the cohesion and esprit de corps that already exists in this battalion.
"This is an exciting day, and we are thrilled to welcome you to the team," O'Donnell continued. "Officially, let me say 'welcome to the 1st Brigade Combat Team.' I want you to be proud of your association with 1st BCT, and I want your Families to be proud of that association also."
The battalion's move to 1st BCT has been in the works for months and required the hard work of unit leaders and Family Members to help make the transition "seamless" for the Soldiers and spouses, O'Donnell said.
"They've done an outstanding job," he said. "In my opinion, it already feels like you are a part of the team."
O'Donnell explained that the battalion's move to 1st BCT will not be unique on Fort Drum.
"On this installation, this is one of the first moves in support of the Army's 2020 concept, which includes redesigns of brigades across the United States Army," he said. "Significant to the Army 2020 concept is the creation of brigade engineer battalions in each infantry brigade combat team. As a result, all brigade combat teams, (including 2nd Brigade Combat Team), will be gaining a brigade engineer battalion."
When 3rd Brigade Combat Team inactivates in the fall, 1st and 2nd BCTs will gain additional units, while others will deactivate, realign and relocate, O'Donnell explained.
"This is not the only change; however, for all in 1st BCT, this is the first step in many changes that are going to occur in the next six months," he said. "The great news about the 7th Engineer Battalion coming this way is that you get to keep your history and heritage -- a history that dates all the way back to the American Civil War. We aren't casing your colors, and we aren't saying 'goodbye' to your organization. Your great battalion will bring its remarkable history to the 1st BCT."
However, while the unit will stay relatively the same, change is coming, O'Donnell explained.
"On Oct. 15, you will still be called the 7th Engineer Battalion, but you going to look much different," he said. "You will have lettered companies, you'll have a (new command team), new engineer company and new (military intelligence) and signal companies. This is the Army, and change is part of our culture, as is the expectation that we will place the mission first and serve with pride and distinction."
The Soldiers will not be the only ones to see change, O'Donnell noted.
"We aren't just putting 10th Mountain Division patches on 7th Engineer Battalion Soldiers; we are putting 1st Brigade Combat Team pins on their spouses," he said. "I think this is important.
"To ease the friction associated with this change, Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Belda, (1st BCT senior enlisted adviser), and I want you all to know that the welfare of Soldiers and their Families is our No. 1 priority. As your new brigade commander, I'm thrilled to have you all -- Soldiers, spouses and children -- as members of 1st Brigade Combat Team."
After his remarks, O'Donnell and Belda met Clancy and Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Lococo, 7th Engineer Battalion senior enlisted adviser, in front of the formation. Together, the 1st BCT command team removed the 20th Engineer Brigade patch from Clancy's and Lococo's left arms and replaced it with the 10th Mountain Division patch.
The leaders then turned to the Soldiers and did the same.
While Soldiers received their new unit patches, 7th Engineer Battalion spouses received 1st BCT pins, signifying their new place in the brigade's family readiness group program.
The ceremony concluded after the audience sang the Engineer Regiment Song, 10th Mountain Division Song and the Army Song.