Colors Casing Ceremony denotes Division's 4th deployment
October 8, 2009
<b> FORT STEWART, Ga. </B>- The 3rd Infantry Division made history, again, as a Colors Casing and Retreat Ceremony held Oct. 2 signified the Marne Division's fourth deployment to Iraq - a milestone made by no other U.S. Army division.
Division Commander Major General Tony Cucolo and Division Command Sergeant Major Jesse Andrews cased the battle-hardened 3rd ID Colors at Marne Garden amidst a multicolored array of brigade and battalion flags that represented more than 20,000 Dog Face Soldiers set to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan in the coming months.
"You are in the presence of history," Maj. Gen. Cucolo said during the ceremony. "You will not see this sight again, for a long time."
The commanding general said that the ceremony was the last day that all the colors throughout the division would be present together at Fort Stewart for at least the next two years.
"The unit colors represent people," he said. "Though you cannot see them, behind each one of those colors are several thousand Soldiers - all volunteers, determined, tough, proud of whom they are and proud of the fact that what they are doing in their lives right now, matters.
"And, next to them are their Families - spouses, sons and daughters, moms and dads, sisters and brothers, significant others, who provide them with love and support that sustains them more often than not in this formation for one more time."
The general said that by the end of this year, 14,000 Marne Soldiers will have deployed and the remaining units will follow in 2010.
During the historic ceremony, each 3rd ID brigade was recognized in chronological order of deployment. Members of the Division Special Troops Battalion and 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team began their tour last month; the STB to Multi-National Division North in Iraq and the Hammer Brigade to MND-South. Both brigades will continue to deploy throughout October. The 2nd HBCT will follow in the coming weeks and will join Task Force Marne in Northern Iraq.
The Combat Aviation Brigade, based out of Hunter Army Airfield, is also slated deploy this month, but to Afghanistan to conduct aerial combat operations.
The 1st HBCT will deploy to Baghdad, Iraq, in November. The unit is currently preparing for combat at the National Training Center located at Fort Irwin, Calif.
The 3rd Sustainment Brigade's Headquarters is slated to deploy to Iraq next May and the Division's sole light-infantry brigade, 4th IBCT, will follow next summer.
Prior to furling and casing the 3rd ID Colors, Maj. Gen. Cucolo and Command Sgt. Maj. Andrews secured each of the Division's 27 campaign streamers that represent Soldiers' sacrifice from the fields of France to the sands of Iraq.
"The first decade of the 21st century has been for your Army, violent, chaotic, costly, (and) transformational," said Maj. Gen. Cucolo. "It's also been strengthening, hardening, (and) toughening. I don't know what the second decade of the 21st century will bring. What I do know is that this decade ends with us moving out one more time, and we're ready."
The general said the ceremony also provided an opportunity for the Division to say 'thanks' to the surrounding communities for their continuing support. Several community leaders, to include U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss and members from organizations throughout Hinesville, Liberty County and Coastal Georgia, joined almost 700 Soldiers and Family Members who watched the Division Colors case. They also witnessed the 3rd ID Band's final performance before they too join the era of persistent conflict.
"(Command) Sergeant Major (Andrews) and I look forward to the day we get to uncase these Colors back on Georgia soil," Maj. Gen. Cucolo said.