By Spc. Alun Thomas, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsMarch 28, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - Threatening clouds and sprinkles of rain hovered over Cooper Field in ominous circumstances but could not deter the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade from holding their color casing ceremony, March 25, as the brigade made their final preparations for their upcoming deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Canadian Army Brig. Gen. Peter Atkinson, from Ottawa, III Corps and Fort Hood deputy commanding general, acted as reviewing officer and presided over the commander of troops, Col. Douglas Gabram, of Cleveland, 1st ACB commander, and the battalions within the 1st ACB, as the brigade undertakes their third deployment since 2004 as part of OIF.
Spectators were treated to the pageantry of the 1st Cavalry Division horse detachment's "cavalry charge," which coincided with the flyover of AH-64D Apache helicopters and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. They also got to see the time honored tradition of casing the unit's colors, which will not be unfurled until the 1st ACB reaches Iraq.
Gabram said the color casing ceremony is an event marked by tradition, honor, respect and sacrifice, adding the ceremony also symbolizes the very soul of the 1st ACB.
"Today is about the families of the Air Cavalry Brigade and these heroes out on the field," Gabram said. "They represent the end of one journey and the beginning of another -- one we have trained long and hard for to deploy to combat."
Gabram said, in his opinion, the war in Iraq is far from over, stating headlines he had read over the past few weeks about continued violence in the region, suggest much work is still to be done.
"We are in a dangerous and critical time as we transition security and responsibility to the Iraqi government," Gabram said. "When it still looks like a war, smells like a war and suffer casualties like a war......well you can fill in the rest."
Although the deployment will be a challenging one, the 1st ACB is up to the task, Gabram said.
"Go ahead and look to the skies because as a matter of fact there is a storm coming: the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade," Gabram said, also thanking the Soldiers who have repeatedly deployed and the patience of their families.
Atkinson said the 1st ACB is extremely well trained for their upcoming mission, with the ceremony an important part of the process of deploying.
"This was an important day in the life of this brigade as they cased their colors," Atkinson said. "Colonel Gabram said a storm was coming, which was a message to [Maj.] General [Daniel] Bolger in Iraq to let him know the Air Cav is going to be a part of the mission and the fight. Today's ceremony let everybody know these troops are ready."
After extensive training the Soldiers are ready to deploy, Atkinson said, as he wished the 1st ACB a safe trip to Iraq and prayed they come back intact.
"Today was the last step before they go out the door," Atkinson said. "God speed and God bless them all."