CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, New York--One of the New York National Guard’s most famous units welcomed a new commander during a Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, change-of-command ceremony at the Camp Smith Training Site near Peekskill, New York.
Army National Guard Col. Patrick Clare, a veteran of the Iraq War, took command of the “Harlem Hellfighters,” the 369th Sustainment Brigade.
The unit earned the nickname during World War I when it was the 369th Infantry Regiment, an all-Black regiment in a segregated Army which distinguished itself on the battlefield.
The unit's official nickname comes from the location of the brigade’s National Guard Armory in New York City's Harlem neighborhood, and an English translation of the German word "hollenkampfer," which is reportedly what the enemy called the African-American Soldiers fighting against them in France.
Today, the 369th Sustainment Brigade is a headquarters which controls up to five major logistics and support units which sustain Army combat forces.
Clare replaced Col. Seth Morgulas, who had commanded the brigade since 2019. Morgulas, who is also a veteran of the Iraq War, commanded the brigade during a 2022-2023 deployment to the Middle East in support of the Army’s Task Force Spartan.
“Commanding a Sustainment Brigade during these trying times is extremely humbling,” Clare told the brigade’s Soldiers.
“Know that I will do my best to build upon what Colonel Morgulas has already established, and continue to move the brigade forward,” he said.
In his remarks, Clare also thanked the officers and non-commissioned officers he has worked with who helped him become a better leader.
He also thanked his family, and his wife Nicole, for their support.
“You have stood by me through three deployments, countless weekends and weeks apart, and you stand with me today ready to take on this next challenge,” Clare said.
A new command sergeant major also took over following the change of command. Command Sgt. Major Leyland Jones replaced Command Sgt. Major Curtiss Moss as the brigade’s senior enlisted Soldier.
Clare, a resident of Clifton Park, New York, joined the New York National Guard in 1994 as an enlisted truck driver.
In 2000 he was commissioned as an officer through the New York Army National Guard's Officer Candidate School.
Clare has served in a number of key logistics positions, to include forward support battalion company commander, forward support battalion commander, brigade logistics officer, assistant chief of staff for logistics for the 42nd Infantry Division, deputy commander of the 53rd Troop Command, and Joint Force Headquarters logistics officer.
He deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005 as the transportation officer for the 42nd Infantry Division in Tikrit. And in 2011 he deployed to Kuwait as brigade logistics officer for the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He also deployed to Kuwait as the chief logistics officer for the 42nd Infantry Division in 2020.
Clare also responded to New York City in 2001 in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Clare is a 2002 Graduate of Nyack College with a BS in Business Administration and is a 2019 graduate of the U.S. Army War College with a master's in strategic studies. He earned an associated degree from Cayuga County Community College in Auburn in 1997.
His awards include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Clare works for the National Guard as a full-time federal technician serving as the New York Army National Guard Director of Logistics.
The 369th Infantry Regiment was originally the 15th New York Infantry (Colored), which was established in 1916. The unit was renumbered by the Army, but the Soldiers proudly carried their state unit flag into battle throughout their time in combat in 1918.
During World War I the unit fought with the French Army, because the United States Army at the time did not have confidence that Black Soldiers could fight.
The unit Soldiers however, repeatedly distinguished themselves in battle and 171 won Frances highest battle honor, the Croix de Guerre. In 2015, Sgt. Henry Johnson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism in battle.
Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, who later became the first African- American general officer, commanded the regiment in 1938.
In 1940, when the National Guard was federalized at the start of World War II, the regiment converted into an antiaircraft unit. The Soldiers deployed to the Pacific where they were reorganized into smaller units guarding island bases against Japanese air attack.
The unit was reorganized during the Cold War period and eventually became the 369th Support Battalion, which went on to serve in the Persian Gulf War.
In 2006, the unit was reorganized again as the 369th Sustainment Brigade, which is designed to command multiple support units.