FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Aug. 31, 2021) --It was a busy morning for 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery Aug. 27, as it conducted an E Battery activation then the battery’s assumption of command ceremony. About a half-hour later, it performed a D Battery assumption of command ceremony, all at the Fort Sill Armed Forces Reserve Center.
The battalion is part of the 428th Field Artillery Brigade. Lt. Col. Jeremy Trentham, 1-78th FA commander, presided over the ceremonies.
First, E Battery was activated when 1st Sgt. Lawrence Moore uncased the battery guidon held by Trentham, who then passed it to Capt. Reshard Horne symbolizing him accepting command of the battery. Horne returned the guidon to Moore for safekeeping.
E Battery is a transition unit for Advanced Individual Training artillery Soldiers, Trentham said. Just 10 months ago the battery was only a concept.
“Complications brought on by COVID-19 combined with the ebbs-and-flows of a normal training environment such as ours, led to an unacceptable number of Soldiers whose forward progress became stagnant, which placed them in various forms of transition due to illness, injury, logistical challenges, and other administrative challenges,” he said. E Battery was created to help Soldiers transition to the next phase of their journeys, whether to return to AIT or begin a different career field; to join the operational force once their healing is complete; or to leave the service.
“Regardless of their path, every Soldier that comes to Echo Battery and goes through their unique processes, will be given the opportunity to transition with the honor they deserve and become better than when they arrived,” Trentham said.
Trentham welcomed Horne and Moore. He said the captain was instrumental in the creation of E Battery.
“I know you care for this battery like it’s your own child, and you are truly the right leader to command this special unit,” Trentham said to Horne. “The Army is a people business, and that’s what this battery is in the business of – taking care of people.”
Horne was most recently at the Fires Center of Excellence G3, where he coordinated the transition of Basic Combat Training Soldiers into AIT and then their first units.
The captain said E Battery embodies the most important task in the Army: Taking care of Soldiers.
“The battery supports both AIT brigades on Fort Sill, partners with Reynolds Army Health Clinic to supervise Soldiers’ medical care, and connects with installation agencies to provide life skill resources to Soldiers,” Horne said. “We ensure Soldiers know that they are just as important as anyone else, although they may not perceive themselves as part of the system that produces our world-class artillery Soldiers.
“All of this would not be possible without a dedicated and professional cadre of artillery and combat-support NCOs that are the epitome of selfless service,” Horne said.
He noted that the battery infrastructure is designed to hold up to 500 Soldiers. The majority of the population will be Soldiers who are in a medical hold status and who will be returning to training. There is a mix of 11 drill sergeants and instructors as the E Battery staff.
D Battery instructors teach the Military Occupational Specialty 13J, or fire direction specialist to AIT Soldiers, said Capt. Erik Filipek who assumed command of the battery.
The 43-member battery staff conducts about 75 classes every year, Filipek said. Each class runs a little over seven weeks. New graduates are sent to field artillery units worldwide.
During the ceremony, 1st Sgt. Fred Scaldaferri handed the D Battery guidon to Trentham who passed them to Filipek symbolizing his authority to command along with the expectation of mission accomplishment. Filipek returned the unit guidon to the first sergeant signifying his trust and confidence in the leaders and Soldiers of the battery.
Filipek was most recently with 1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery as an FA Basic Officer Leader Course instructor teaching fires support. The captain previously commanded at the 4th Infantry Division.
“I am very proud and humbled to serve the battery and the battalion, and have the opportunity for a second command,” Filipek said. “Commands are few and far between, especially second commands.”
Filipek said he leads with a positive climate.
“It’s a very direct and positive leadership style,” he said. “I want to get to know everybody in my chain of command. If you put out that positive attitude, typically you get the best results.”
Trentham said he could not think of anyone more suited to the task of leading training of fire direction specialists than Filipek.
“He lives the Army values, he respects and values his team, and he brings with him great ideas and a ton of enthusiasm,” Trentham said. “Everyone in D Battery should feel confident that they are getting an outstanding new commander.”