HOHENFELS, Germany -- The world-class opposition force (OPFOR) of 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment (1st Bn., 4th Inf. Regt), assigned to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC), paid tribute to its new tank company in an activation ceremony at the 7th Army Training Command's Hohenfels Training Area, Feb. 8, 2018.

JMRC's commanding officer, Col. Curtis Buzzard, was the ceremony's host.

The 1st Bn., 4th Inf. Regt. commander, Lt. Col. Michael Condon, provided the opening remarks.

"It is not every day that you get to activate a company, so this is truly a special day," said Condon during his remarks. "While the company is no stranger to the Warrior Battalion, it has been five long years since the Dragon Company guidon has flown in the battalion formation and their Soldiers prowled the box searching for blue force tanks to 'kill.'"

1st Lt. Robert Hurd, and 1st Sgt. Michael Mezzacapo will helm the new company. Deactivated in 2013 as Dragon Company, the guidon flies again today under a new call sign, "Dakota."

With the need to train rotational units with an emphasis on armor, it was deemed necessary to activate a dedicated tank company once again.

"I'm really honored to be the first sergeant of Dakota Company," said Mezzacapo. "It is my absolute goal to have this company ruling the 'box' again and striking fear in the hearts of rotational units when we uncoil from our tactical assembly area."

Though the 1st Bn., 4th Inf. Regt.'s primary role is as an opposing force to rotational units that participate in U.S. Army Europe-directed exercises at JMRC, it still functions as a deployable battalion size element in the grand scheme of the U.S. Army.

"At Europe's premier training center," Hurd opened with during his speech. "As members of U.S. Army Europe's world-class OPFOR, the Soldiers before you will work alongside the formations of our partners and allies to understand, test, and develop modern armored forces for the maneuver warfare of the future."

While Dakota Company's revival comes with a new name, and new nametags, Hurd wanted attendees of the ceremony to know the unit will not forget those who came before them.

Hurd paid tribute to those from Dragon Company who were killed in action in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, July 6, 2010: Staff Sgt. Marc Arizmendez; Spc. Roger Lee, and Pvt. Michael Pridham Jr.

The Dakota Soldiers will carry the memories of their predecessors forward as they return to the Box.

"You have a unique opportunity to place your mark on the company and be a part of something from the ground up," added Condon during his remarks when addressing the Dakota Company Soldiers. "Take pride in the fact that you are integral parts of returning Dakota Company to its fighting form and will be key contributors to its storied reputation."

Hurd added that the new company is a highly capable, professional force that is ready to answer the nation's call, wherever, whenever.