FORT HOOD, Texas -- Soldiers, Family members, and retirees from the 41st Field Artillery Brigade "Rail Gunners" and the 1st Cavalry Division gathered at Cooper Field to watch as artillery history was made during a ceremony here, April 2.
On the parade field, the colors of the Rail Gunner Brigade were cased -- symbolically inactivating the unit -- and the colors of the 1st Cavalry Division Artillery were unfurled marking a return of the division artillery, or DIVARTY, to the ranks of the First Team.
"I am extremely humbled to have just cased the colors of the 41st Field Artillery Brigade," said Col. Patrick Gaydon, commander of the 1st Cav. Div. Artillery. "I want to pay appropriate tribute to everything and everyone that those colors represent. Yet I know that I speak for the whole team, you see in front of you, when I say that we are extremely excited to bring back the 1st Cav. DIVARTY after its almost 10 year hiatus."
In attendance at this historical event were several distinguished 1st Cav. Div. alumni including Gen. Ray Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army and Lt. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, commanding general of I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord -- both former commanders of 1st Cav. DIVARTY.
Activated on Jan. 3, 1941 at Fort Bliss, Texas, the 1st Cav. DIVARTY, or Red Team, was part of the division for 65 years, before being inactivated on June 26, 2005, following the First Team's redeployment from Iraq a few months prior.
"As I look out and see the colors of the 1st Cavalry Division Artillery alongside the cased colors of the 41st Field Artillery Brigade, I realize today is an important reminder that in our profession, change is constant," said Maj. Gen. Michael Bills, commander of the 1st Cav. Div. "Change often defines us, both individually and collectively. The proud history of one fine unit is set aside to open the door of another legacy to resume its place with the troopers of the First Team."
The changes that took place at the ceremony represent part of the Army's transition away from a modular force to a full spectrum force.
"As 1st Cavalry's DIVARTY, our very reason for being will be to provide maneuver commanders with a trained ready and responsive fire support system when they need it," said Gaydon.
Following the ceremony, the Army Chief of Staff explained why the Army as a whole is bringing division artillery units.
"It always feels go to see it [DIVARTY] come back into the formation," said Odierno. "What's more important is that we reestablish division artillery because of the importance that it will play in the future of the Army, our ability to integrate and synchronize fires and do it at the division level."
The Red Team first saw action in Admiralty Islands Campaign during World War II, and was called again to combat with the rest of the division during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
The unit also played an important role during Operation Desert Strom in 1991, paving the way for the rest of the First Team's famous assault against the Iraqi Republican Guard and later assisted with peacekeeping operation in support of Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The 41st Field Artillery Brigade was activated Oct. 1, 1918 as the 41st Artillery (Coastal Artillery Crops) at Fort Monroe, Virginia and later moved to Fort Kamehameha, Hawaii where it was redesignated as the 41st Artillery Battalion (Railway) (Coast Artillery Corps), June 1, 1922. It was from this redesignation as a rail-based artillery unit, where the brigade earned its nickname the "Rail Gunners".
The Rail Gunners moved from Hawaii to Fort Sill, Oklahoma before heading to take part in the Vietnam War, where its relationship with the 1st Cav. Div. started. After Vietnam, the brigade was again activated in Germany as the 41st Field Artillery Group.
In 2005 the brigade was once again inactivated, but was activated once more at Fort Hood in 2007.
"As they march on into the future, I assure you that change will continue at the First Team and at the Great Place," said Bills. "Enabled by the flexibility of our troopers and leaders, we will embrace chance with the same cavalry spirit and boldness that has defined this division for more than 93 years."