By Jordan Chapman, 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs OfficeDecember 5, 2009
"Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation."
About 900 Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division Headquarters each will have their chance to prove former United States Senator and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy's words true as they travel to southern Iraq for a 12-month deployment -- the Big Red One headquarters' first deployment since being sent overseas to support Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
The 1st Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion was formally sent off in front of family, friends and surrounding community and state officials Dec. 4 during a deployment ceremony. During its deployment, the division will take command of multiple brigade combat teams and partner with Iraqi Security Forces.
"We are honored to be chosen for this mission at this time ... and we will do our best," said Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks, commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley. "We are doing our duty and we are eager to do that duty."
Once in theater, it will be the Big Red One's mission to execute operations at the heart of Operation Iraqi Freedom -- maintain peace, deter aggression and help Iraqis continue to rebuild their country.
"We are all little bit excited," said Maj. Randal Hickman, operations research officer for the Army and 1st Infantry Division staff.
Making his first deployment to Iraq, Hickman spoke the words of many Soldiers when he said he is spending as much time with Family as he can during the holiday season before he and his fellow Soldiers depart the safety of America's borders. "We are very well trained, very well prepared and we are looking forward to completing our mission," Hickman said.
While headquarters is deployed, incoming Brig. Gen. David Petersen, deputy commanding general of the 1st Inf. Div. Rear Detachment, expects business at Fort Riley to continue as usual.
"I believe [Fort Riley] is being left in great hands with [Brig.] Gen. Petersen, the Garrison command and this mission support element," Brooks said, explaining further that this ceremony also marks the first time the division headquarters has been deployed in a modular fashion.
"We are not taking the whole division to Iraq as a single unit. Indeed, less than 10 percent of the total strength of the of 1st Infantry Division is deploying ... it is a testament to the flexibility of a combat tested Army," Brooks said. Petersen said that while 900 Soldiers are deploying, 16,000 Soldiers still remain at Fort Riley.
"The transition (of leadership) should be pretty transparent," Petersen said, explaining he has already taken the initiative to view the surrounding townships as well as meet with notable surrounding community officials to insure the relationship with the citizens of the Greater Flint Hills Region is maintained, if not heightened.
"There really is some magic here between Fort Riley and its surrounding communities," Petersen said, noting the many state officials that came to say "thank you" to the Soldiers for their service.
"I'm proud of what we see here but it's also a very difficult and sad day," said Jerry Moran, U.S. Rep. for Kansas' 1st District. "It's never easy to see someone leave for a long period of time that you love ... we are here to support the men and women that are being deployed as well as their families."