A military unit can become a Soldier's second home, a second family. The camaraderie and esprit de corps is almost as important as conducting the unit's mission, so when a unit deactivates Soldiers can find it to be bittersweet.
This was the case for 1st Sergeant Rhonda Martin, the first sergeant for Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 379th Regiment. "This was the first unit I was assigned to when I first came into the Army" she said. "We're like a family here."
The 3rd Battalion, 379th Regiment conducted its deactivation ceremony at Fort Smith, Arkansas on Dec. 10, 2016, which is part of a larger restructuring of the 800th Logistics Support Brigade, a direct support unit to the 80th Training Command (The Army School System).
The 800th LSB restructuring resulted in five battalions and each of the battalion's three companies deactivating, which means that, in total, the 800th LSB is deactivating 20 units at 13 locations across the country.
"While the Battalions are deactivating, the 800th and 80th are not," said Col. Christopher Govekar, Chief of Operations, Plans and Training for the 80th TC. "It's an inescapable truth today that not everyone will be able to continue to serve in the same role as in the past, but that leads to growth and growth [both] personal and professional is what the Army's all about."
During the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Thomas P. Evans, deputy commanding general of the 80th TC, shared words of appreciation and highlighted how change is inevitable, but the deactivation should not be looked at as an ending, but "a beginning for you to go on to new opportunities," he said.
"In the storied lineage of this awesome unit that was read, there are different activations, reorganizations and deactivations since its inception," Evans added. "Over the years in my military and civilian education, they have told me that change is a good thing…this deactivation is nothing new. It's a function of politics and leaderships' decisions to more efficiently deal with global events."
Evans ended with encouraging the Soldiers to treat the deactivation as an opportunity to serve in a different capacity, "Change can and should be good. I have had more 25 different Army jobs…I have learned and grown from every one and I encourage you to do the same. This is the beginning of new opportunities, so go on to do bigger and greater things."
The Soldiers and civilians assigned to this deactivating battalion are being reassigned and provided job opportunities for growth and development in other parts of the 800th LSB or the 80th TC.
"It takes a lot to deactivate a unit," said Lt. Col. Roderick Laughman, Battalion Commander of the 3rd Battalion, 379th Regiment. "You have to move 100% of personnel and equipment while still meeting all military requirements."
"The Soldiers are what made this unit special and have proven they can do great things," Laughman added. "They will go off and lead and bring that same specialness to their next units."
Martin seemed to echo the sentiments of Laughman about taking what she learned to her new unit, "I intended to retire here, but that's not how the Army intended it. I've got a little bit more to go, so this is not the end but a new beginning."