By Chuck Cannon, Fort Polk Guardian staff writerNovember 18, 2008
In a change mirroring the Army's commitment to Soldiers wounded while on active duty, Fort Polk's Warrior Transition Unit was redesignated a Warrior Transition Battalion and received a commander Nov. 12.
Lt. Col. Timothy P. Albers took the reins of the new unit from U.S. Medical Department Activity commander Col. George Giacoppe during the ceremony at 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Gym. Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk commander Brig. Gen. James C. Yarbrough served as reviewing officer for the event.
Fort Polk's WTU - now the 1st Warrior Transition Battalion -was activated June 15, 2007. The unit's mission is to provide command and control for each Soldier who has suffered injury or illness, ensuring the Soldier receives the appropriate medical care and administrative support.
Since its activation, the unit has served more than 800 Warriors in transition.
During the ceremony, the 1st WTB's new colors were unfurled and passed to Albers. Yarbrough then officially welcomed Albers, who comes to Fort Polk following an assignment in Iraq as director of intelligence for the 4th Infantry Division and Multi-National Division-Baghdad. Yarbrough said Albers "is smart, volunteered for the job and has experience; he's the right man for the job and wants to be here."
The 1st WTB is composed of Alpha and Bravo companies and currently has 332 members. Yarbrough said its Soldiers are provided dedicated medical and administrative support with an ultimate goal of a return to duty, or, if circumstances dictate, reclassification into another military occupational specialty or return to their community and Family as an honored veteran with dignity and respect.
Albers said he is ready to face the challenges of commanding the 1st WTB. He said it is an honor to serve with Soldiers who have placed their lives on the line in the defense of freedom.
"I look forward to serving with you," he said.
Albers received his commission from Florida State University and has spent most of his career in military intelligence. He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College and holds a master's degree in military arts and science.
Albers' awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Parachutist Badge and Aviation Crewmember Badge.
Prior to the ceremony, Yarbrough awarded the Purple Heart Medal to three 1st WTB Soldiers injured in the Global War on Terror: Spc. Toby Dothager, Alpha Company, 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division; Spc. Joseph Elliot, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th BCT, 10th Mtn Div; and Spc. John Green, Alpha Company, 136th Infantry Battalion, 1st Armored Division.
Dothager was injured July 13, 2006, when his vehicle was engaged by a suicide bomber. He suffered hearing loss, head trauma and a shoulder injury.
Elliot was providing convoy security March 29 when his vehicle was struck by multiple improvised explosive devices. He suffered shrapnel wounds to his left side.
Green was driving a Bradley Fighting Vehicle Dec. 10, 2007, when it was struck by an IED, knocking him unconscious. He received shrapnel wounds to his left cheek.