Reserve unit completes yearlong Basic Combat Training mission
April 7, 2011
FORT SILL, Okla. -- There is no difference between active-duty and Army Reserve drill sergeants, said the commander of the 434th Field Artillery Brigade, which is responsible for training new Soldiers at Fort Sill.
"They (Reserve component) seamlessly integrated in the brigade," said Col. Gregory Dewitt, 434th FA commanding officer. "They trained nearly 2,700 Soldiers for our Army at a time when those Soldiers were needed the most."
Dewitt made his remarks April 1, at the 1st Battalion, 414th Infantry Regiment unit casing ceremony at Polo Field. The Army Reserve 1-414th, with its cadre of 107, has been at Fort Sill since April 2010 performing the Basic Combat Training mission. The ceremony symbolically marked the completion of the unit's mission here.
Dewitt noted that the 1-414th did not have any recruit AWOLs during holiday block leave.
"In January, every Soldier returned from two weeks leave," Dewitt said. "That's the first time in the brigade's history. Dewitt thanked and praised the cadre and wished them good luck and godspeed back to their home units.
Lt. Col. Lance Ball, 1-414th commanding officer, a traditional Army Reserve Soldier, who volunteered for the mission, said he enjoyed the past year.
"I loved it," said Ball, who grew up in Texas and now lives in Salem, Ore. Still it had its challenges, Ball said.
He had four months lead time to get the Reserve Soldiers, including 68 volunteer drill sergeants, from units in 18 western states together for the yearlong mission. Another challenge was the extreme Oklahoma weather, particularly the cold winter.
This was the third consecutive year that a Reserve battalion performed the one-year BCT mission at Fort Sill, Ball said.
Two years ago, the 1-355th Infantry Regiment from Round Rock, Texas, trained more than 1,600 Soldiers, Ball said. Last year, the 3-378th Infantry Regiment, from Norman, trained about 1,500 Soldiers.
The 1-414th "Night Fighters," headquartered in Eugene, Ore., trained 2,652 Soldiers.
Together the Reserve battalions trained 5,812 Soldiers in nine training cycles. "We should all be proud of their accomplishments," Ball said.
Ball, a retired economist with the state of Oregon, will return to the 2nd Brigade, 95th Division headquarters in Vancouver, Wash.
During the ceremony, Command Sgt. Major Thomas Gehm III, 1-414th CSM, passed the battalion colors to Ball, who dipped them which allowed Gehm and Dewitt to case them.
Drill Sergeant (Sgt. 1st Class) Jody Phillips, 1-414th, reflected back on the year.
"The recruits got outstanding training," said Phillips, who was former active duty. He noted that many of the incoming Soldiers are Reserve and National Guardsmen, so Reserve drill sergeants could probably give them a little more insight on those aspects of the Army.
Phillips, who lives in Sacramento, Calif., will return to his civilian job as a roadway inspector for the California Department of Transportation.
1st Lt. Heather Burgwald-Mellor, B Company, 1-414th executive officer, said she was proud of the unit's accomplishments.
"I'm feeling very good, " she said. "I sat behind a desk most of the time, but I feel good knowing that because of my diligence my Soldiers had everything they needed to train recruits: ranges set up, ammunition, food, a place to sleep."