GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - Joint Task Force Guantanamo Soldiers and their leaders gathered on the Camp Bulkeley Parade Field Friday, April 18 at JTF GTMO to bid farewell to Louisiana's 2228th Military Police Company and welcome the 747th MP Company from Boston. During the ceremony, the 747th received their assignment and the 2228th looked forward to their return home knowing they did a job well-done.
"We are grateful to the officers, NCOs and Soldiers of the 2228th MP Company who have faithfully executed their mission with great success," said Army chaplain Capt. Roger Osborn during the ceremony's invocation. "As for the members of the 747th, may they begin with the end in mind, driven by integrity and honor bound [to defend freedom]."
The 2228th was organized April 1, 1916, in the Louisiana Army National Guard. They were deployed in federal service and returned to state control multiple times in their 98-year-long history, as well as provided support for state disaster response countless times, most recently with Hurricane Isaac, the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill and Operation River Guardian, and aiding humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti. They also served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009, where they received the Naval Unit Commendation citation.
True to their motto of actions, not words, the 2228th has accepted and completed each mission placed in front of them, including their assignment of the last nine months to JTF GTMO.
"They have witnessed many changes to the organizations they supported and the environment that they operated in," said the ceremony's host, Army Lt. Col. Richard Ball. "Their successes, service and dedication to their classified operation are commendable."
Ball continued that it is a fitting time for the Boston Soldiers to take over at GTMO. For on this date 239 years ago, Paul Revere started his ride that raised the first militia in Massachusetts to begin the defense of freedom for America, and this week marks one year since the terror attacks in Boston.
"If anyone can understand the vital mission you now assume, it will be these Soldiers in this unit. You are charged to secure and safeguard through humane and transparent care, those who want to harm our way of life and those we love," said Ball. "As you assume this mantle of service, passed down through history by those first Massachusetts militiamen, I know you are ready and prepared for the burdens we are about to ask you to bear."
While the 747th was formed on April 1, 1995, in Southbridge, Mass., more than a century after their predecessors, they have also been called to active duty numerous times in defense of their state and nation. They served in Operation Enduring Freedom in 2003 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq 2009, where they were awarded Meritorious Unit Citation. Like the 2228th, their state has called on them for support as well, such as providing security at airports following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, relief for Hurricane Katrina, Operation Tornado Relief, Hurricane Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombing.
During the ceremony, the 747th unfurled their guidon, signifying their arrival to JTF GTMO, and their willingness to carry out the detainee mission after the departure of the 2228th.
As they prepare to carry out the mission with success, their commander reminded them that they must remain true to their creed.
"Remember our company motto of 'Keep Guard' as we strive to complete this mission," said Army Capt. Tyler Field, commander, 747th. "Keep guard of the detainees you are assigned to protect in our efforts to ensure their treatment is safe, humane, legal and transparent. Just as importantly, keep guard of each other."