By Melissa Bower, Fort Leavenworth LampMay 10, 2012
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (May 10, 2012) -- Re-enlisting the Army has become tougher with more rigid standards, so leaders of the 40th Military Police Internment and Resettlement Battalion, 15th Military Police Brigade, arranged to have a Medal of Honor recipient conduct a re-enlistment ceremony for about 60 of the battalion's Soldiers May 3.
Retired Col. Roger Donlon, the first Soldier to receive the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War, conducted the ceremony. Donlon said he had conducted re-enlistment ceremonies before, but never was able to re-enlist so many Soldiers at once.
Donlon said he considered it an honor to re-enlist Soldiers and share his Medal of Honor with the rest of the force.
"When I received this award, I promised I would commit myself to honoring those who were unable to wear it," he said.
Lt. Col. Bob Willis, 40th MP I/R Battalion commander, said the ceremony was in honor of both the current Soldiers and the past Medal of Honor recipient.
"We're selecting the cream of the crop and what we wanted to do is recognize the Soldiers for serving in a time of war," Willis said.
Willis said at one time, Soldiers only had to meet the minimum physical fitness standards and have no disciplinary action in their personnel files to re-enlist. But with budget cuts and the Army reducing in size, Willis said Soldiers have to meet higher standards for civilian education, military awards and exceptional fitness standards. Willis said many of the Soldiers re-enlisting May 3 were honor graduates at their military education programs and noncommissioned officer schools, and had exceptional reports for duty performance.
Soldiers in the 40th serve inside the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. The unit stood up in 2009 to take the place of the 705th Military Police Internment and Resettlement Battalion during the 705th's second deployment in support of detention operations in Iraq.
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 40th MP I/R Battalion, later deployed in 2010 to Iraq, also to work at detention facilities and train Iraqi military and police to takeover the facility. Soldiers in the 40th were some of the last to leave Iraq during the drawdown of U.S. forces in 2011.
Staff Sgt. Thomas Rincon and Staff Sgt. William Veith, HHC, 40th, were two of those Soldiers.
Rincon said he re-enlisted because he enjoys the stability that the Army provides for him and his two children. He's planning for a re-assignment soon to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Veith plans to stay at Fort Leavenworth, and recently bought a home in town.
"The friends I've made while deploying with them, that was a big factor," Veith said of wanting to re-enlist.
The 40th also was responsible for the USDB achieving high marks during a recent inspection from the American Correctional Association, and full accreditation is expected at a later date.