KILLEEN, Texas (January 23, 2017) -- Military Intelligence Soldiers from across III Corps and Fort Hood celebrated esprit-de-corps, partnership and camaraderie during the III Corps Military Intelligence Ball, Jan. 20, at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center. The Ball also served to commemorate the Fort Hood-based 504th Military Intelligence Brigade's 75 years of service to the MI Corps, the U.S. Army and the national Intelligence Community.
Nearly 500 Soldiers and their significant others attended the event, representing III Corps, 1st Cavalry Division, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 15th and 206th Military Intelligence Battalions, and the 504th. Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley, Jr., currently the U.S. Army's chief intelligence officer, and the Military Intelligence Corps' only three-star general, was the featured keynote speaker.
Col. (Ret.) Richard Allenbaugh, a former commander of the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade from 1992-94, and a Distinguished Member of the MI Corps, also provided remarks.
Maxing the Center's capacity, the 500 attendees participated in traditional military customs throughout the evening -- including toasts to the Commander-in Chief and III Corps, along with a Grog Ceremony honoring the centuries-old history of the Military Intelligence Corps. A highlight for the event came in the presentation of Knowlton Awards to 38 awardees from each of the units represented.
The Knowlton Award recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to the promotion of Army Military Intelligence in ways that stand out in the eyes of their superiors, subordinates and peers. These individuals must also demonstrate high standards of moral character, display an outstanding degree of professional competence, and serve the Military Intelligence community with distinction. The Military Intelligence Corps Association established the award in 1995, and it is presented with a plaque, certificate and blue ribbon and medal worn around one's neck.
During his remarks, Lt. Gen. Ashley praised the work of Military Intelligence Soldiers who support III Corps and the U.S. Army in their daily work safeguarding the American public and our nation.
"Every day in America, 320 million Americans get up and they enjoy their lives under the security umbrella that you (MI Soldiers) provide. That is an awesome task," Lt. Gen. Ashley said. "So when you walk through an airport, and somebody says, 'Thanks for your service,' you just look at them and smile and say, 'You're welcome. It is my pleasure. It is my passion. It is what I live to do, because I love being a Soldier.'"
Lt. Gen. Ashley continued by saying that Soldiers, and their Families, provide the freedoms and way of life that Americans enjoy, and said, "We can never take that for granted, across every generation. There's no guarantee that the life we enjoy today will be there for our children or our grandchildren."
Since its activation in February 1942, the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade has endured a storied legacy, serving in central Europe and Northern France during World War II, and in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. Tracing its lineage to the 137th Signal Radio Intelligence Company (Aviation), the 504th has earned campaign streamers for three World War II campaigns and five deployments to Iraq.
In one instance during World War II, the 137th Signal Radio Intelligence Company intercepted German Army preparations for the Battle of the Bulge, and reported those to the 9th Army's intelligence officer, a triumph that helped U.S. forces anticipate Axis movements, said Col. Laura Knapp, commander of the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, during the Ball.
Military Intelligence was a part of every American conflict since the American Revolution, but rarely in a deliberate form prior to the 20th Century. World War I was a turning point for the Corps, when Military Intelligence became a permanent facet of the Army. The Army Security Agency, a branch of the Signal Intelligence Service created in the 1930s, was re-designated as a major field command in 1964.
Historical displays showcased units' various achievements and battlefield legacies for those in attendance. Posters highlighting the 22 members of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame who have 504th or III Corps connections were also displayed in the ballroom. A 30-minute slideshow played during dinner used hundreds of submitted pictures to portray MI Soldiers in combat and garrison throughout the years.
For Capt. Amanda Goldman, the Officer-in-Charge of the III Corps Military Intelligence Ball, the planning grew initially from coordinating a smaller internal unit event commemorating the brigade's 75th Anniversary, to celebrating all III Corps MI units and Soldiers. The event, she said, brought MI professionals together to celebrate their expertise in the field.
"Just to bring a lot of the intel community together ... and I'm sure it was like a reunion for a bunch of people and you run into folks you haven't seen in years," Goldman said. "Hopefully it's something that people will talk about."
Earlier in the day, the 504th hosted a "Military Intelligence Team Run" on West Fort Hood, along with Leader Professional Development forums with Lt. Gen. Ashley and Col. (Ret). Allenbaugh for junior enlisted Soldiers and Noncommissioned Officers and Officers.