1st Infantry Division Uncases Colors
Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks, commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jim Champagne, division command sergeant major, uncase the 1st Infantry Division colors during a ceremony on Jan. 20, at King Field House on Fort Riley, Kan.

FORT RILEY, Kan. Jan. 20, 2011 -- The Kansas weather may have not been considered very welcoming, but a historic Army division with a long lineage of victories on the battlefield faced its newest adversary with the same determination and once again achieved success.

The colors of the 1st Infantry Division were uncased Jan. 20, at a ceremony on Fort Riley, Kan., signifying the return of the unit's headquarters to Fort Riley. The ceremony took place a mere few hours after the post and surrounding communities were blanketed with inches of snow that caused the post to operate on a two-hour weather delay.

"It sure seems that we can't have any post ceremonies without a snow storm in advance," chuckled Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks, commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley.

The Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion of the "Big Red One" deployed to Iraq in January of 2010, where it assumed command of the United States Division-South. While deployed, the unit was responsible for providing security for the Iraqi national elections, conducted last March as well as conducting sustainment operations that included the removal of U.S. equipment from the country and the transfer of more than 30 U.S. military installations to the Iraqi forces.

"What we had the chance to do was see what success looks like.," Brooks said. "For many of us who had deployed there before, to see the progress that was made was very impressive. (The deployment) was moving Iraq forward. That's the simplest way to describe it."

"I remember when we left here, I was asked 'How does it feel'' We were looking into the darkness of uncertainty, and frankly, (returning home) feels great. Now what we have behind us is a list of accomplishments that we can all be very proud of. We're just happy to be back," he explained.

Brooks also noted the uniqueness of the deployment itself. The 1st Inf. Div.'s headquarters deployed as a modular unit, separate from its subordinate elements. This type of deployment was the first of its kind for the historic unit, Brooks said.

"That's a very different approach. It was not easy, but it's something that we can do and we have demonstrated success on that," Brooks said. "We took units from other parts of the Army and the other joint services and other agencies of the U.S. Government and they came underneath our leadership. It was truly like being on an all-star team."

Brooks noted the efforts and success of the units and command team that remained on Fort Riley throughout the duration of the deployment. He complemented the Mission Support Element in successfully managing the Big Red One units that remained at Fort Riley and at other posts.

"The accomplishments on the home front here at Fort Riley were at least as impressive as those that occurred in southern Iraq. Nothing was normal about what you were asked to do. Nothing was routine. There was no handbook and no standing operating procedure," he said. "No matter the circumstances, no matter the curve ball pitched at you; you knocked it out of the park."

He additionally complemented Brig. Gen. David Petersen, who was assigned to command the 1st Inf. Div. units that remained at Fort Riley, Kan., as well as division elements at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Fort Sill, Okla. and Fort Knox, Ky. During his command, Petersen assisted with the successful deployments of five brigades from the division.

"I am just outstanding. It's always nice to have the boss back. This has been a very interesting year. I was so busy, this year went by so quickly. We worked a lot of weekends and federal holidays, but that's not to complain, it's been very exciting," said Brig. Gen. David Petersen, commanding general of the 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley - rear. "If it wasn't for the support that we had from the local communities and community leaders, this would have almost been a mission too difficult, quite honestly."

The nearly 900 Soldiers that deployed with the unit last winter, began redeploying to Fort Riley in November and were welcomed home by their friends and family members.

"It's a relief. We got to spend New Year's Eve together, so it was good" said Eileen Fallin, whose husband, 1st Sgt. David Fallin, returned with the unit. "It's nice to be able to watch them uncase the colors. This feels a lot better than watching them leave. There's no apprehension, everything is over and there are no worries now that he is home."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16