By Staff Sgt. Terrance D. RhodesJune 17, 2015
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (Army News Service, June 19, 2015) -- The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) became the first division headquarters to convert to a multi-component unit division headquarters, June 16.
During a patching ceremony, Soldiers, from Wisconsin and Utah Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve, placed Velco-backed "Old Abe" patches on their upper left sleeves marking another milestone in Screaming Eagle history.
The ceremony represents one of the many transformations in the Army.
The purpose of multi-component unit division headquarters is to fully-integrate Reserve and National Guard Soldiers into the modification table of organization and equipment. Additionally, this will close operational gaps in mission command capacity, while establishing a cohesive, fully-capable headquarters, which can execute assigned missions.
During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Gary G. Volesky, commander of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell, began his speech by informing those in attendance about the proud history of the 101st.
"The Screaming Eagles are well-known in the state of Wisconsin," Volesky said. "The roots of this division run deep in the history of the Badger state.
"The eagle patch, we proudly wear on our shoulder, is directly descended from Old Abe, the mascot who was adopted by the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War," he continued. "Old Abe led that famed regiment into battle during our nation's bloodiest conflict in history."
The inspiration and importance of the eagle can be traced back to the words of Confederate Gen. Sterling Price during the Battle of Corinth in 1862.
"That bird must be captured or killed at all hazards, I would rather get that eagle than capture a whole brigade or a dozen battle flags," Price was quoted saying.
Volesky encouraged those in attendance - saying that the future of the 101st looks bright.
"Many have tried since then to kill the spirit of our eagle, and all have and will continue to fail," he said. "Our newest Soldiers will make our spirit stronger."
Lt. Col. Leland Ward, senior representative for the Wisconsin National Guard, understands the importance of the rejoining forces.
"Today, we are presented with an historical opportunity to reunite the state of Wisconsin with the division," Ward said. "This is an opportunity for us to prove the flexibility of the [division multi-component unit], as we integrate seamlessly under the division commander."
No matter the mission, or the next rendezvous with destiny, the legacy will continue to grow.
"Today, history comes full circle as I welcome you back to the 101st team," Volesky said. "I know you will wear the Screaming Eagle patch with the same honor and dignity as the 8th Wisconsin had carrying Old Abe into battle."