By Zach Morgan, Fort Polk Guardian staff writerMay 8, 2009
The Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk welcomed its newest brigade May 1 as the 162nd Infantry Brigade was reactivated and changed command at a ceremony on Warrior Field.
The 162nd will begin its mission of training military transition teams as combat advisors Aug. 30 on North Fort Polk, where the 5th Training Brigade trained Soldiers during the Vietnam War.
The 5th conducted training at what became known as Tigerland, and Fort Polk sent more Soldiers to Vietnam than any other Army installation. The 162nd saw action in World War I and World War II and was deactivated in 1965.
The Army Institute of Heraldry has incorporated the history of the 162nd and 5th in the new 162nd patch and insignia. The unit's motto is "Every Man a Tiger."
The brigade, which will number more than 800 by August, will train 5,000 Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen annually.
"You don't get to bring a unit back to life very often," said Brig. Gen. James Yarbrough, commander, JRTC and Fort Polk.
"This is just my second chance in about 30 years on active duty.
"Seize this moment," he charged the Soldiers of the 162nd. "The colors of the 162nd have lain dormant since they last waved proudly over the brigade 44 years ago, and now they're back on active duty."
Yarbrough explained the magnitude of the brigade's mission.
"They are an enduring strategic capability for the Army and the Department of Defense," he said. "These Soldiers have a sense of purpose and stand ready and prepared to execute."
The outgoing commander, Col. Richard Bloss, concurred. "This mission has the highest level of attention and strategic significance for our armed forces, with proven success in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.
"This mission is critical for security and stability across the globe."
Bloss, who has been with the brigade throughout the process of bringing it on line, commented on his tenure. "The past 14 months have been the most challenging, and the most rewarding, of my career," he said. "It is with regret that I leave, but with assurance that these Soldiers are well-led and better off than when we started this mission and on the right azimuth for continued success."
The incoming commander, Col. Mark Bertolini, acknowledged Bloss' work. "It is an honor to assume command of these troops," he said. "Bloss was an outstanding steward of the brigade, and provided a seamless hand-off."
In his first address to the troops, Bertolini referenced their history. "You follow in the footsteps of the brave Soldiers of Tigerland fame and those of the Louisiana Maneuvers before them," he said. "You are taking part in a groundbreaking mission that will no doubt have an impact on the future of American military power for many years to come. I challenge you to become the best teachers you can be, provide the finest training possible to those who will bear the burden of combat."