By T. Anthony BellSeptember 21, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 20, 2012) -- The 49th Quartermaster Group, once the active Army's only petroleum and water unit, quietly faded into the annals of history during an inactivation ceremony Friday at Seay Field.
About 300 people attended the event to include a number of dignitaries and past members of the unit. Brig. Gen. (promotable) Jeffrey N. Colt, deputy commanding general, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, was the presiding official.
The general, representing the 49th's higher headquarters and wearing its trademark maroon beret, paid a stirring tribute to the Army's logisticians in general and the 49th specifically during his remarks, saying it was a privilege to pay homage to the unit, its Soldiers and their achievements.
"I would like to express my personal and professional gratitude to all the 49er team, past and present, including the Family members attending," he said. "(We're) not just witnessing but celebrating this magnificent group's last 19 years of faithful and outstanding service to our Army and our nation."
The 49th QM Group was the only active Army Forces Command element at a post with a heavy concentration of Training and Doctrine Command-related activity. Its existence here was marked by its outgrowth from the now-deactivated 240th QM Battalion to a unit that deployed thousands of Soldiers to Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. Among its accomplishments during the wars was the construction of the largest petroleum pipeline ever built by the U.S. military.
During his remarks, Col. Rodney Fogg, the 49th's commander, who earlier received the Legion of Merit in a separate ceremony, followed up Colt's expressive, quote-laden speech with a bit of humor.
"'Don't cry because it's over,'" he opened. "'Smile because it happened' -- Dr. Seuss." Resultant chuckles from the crowd grew into full laughter, laying to rest a tone of solemnity. Fogg went on to convey what the unit has endured and accomplished, summing it up by saying the quote from the famous children's author was appropriate.
"We are smiling because it happened," he said, "and we have a lot to smile about. We can smile because of the men and women standing on the parade field today, Soldiers who stepped up and volunteered to serve. They volunteered during a period of conflict, fully ready to sacrifice for their country."
Just moments before his speech, Fogg had stood with the unit's guidon as his senior enlisted Soldier, Sgt. Maj. Jay Porter, furled and then cased the colors. Just behind them stood fractional representations of the remaining units -- Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 530th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and the 54th, 111th and 108th QM companies in addition to the rear detachment of the 612th Movement Control Team.
The 49th's inactivation will trigger further transitional actions among its subordinate units. The 54th and 111th, the active Army's only mortuary affairs units, are scheduled to relocate sometime in 2013. The 530th and 108th are scheduled to inactivate next year.
The 612th, a transportation unit, has more than 60 Soldiers who are currently deployed in Southwest Asia. They are scheduled to return sometime in December. The future of the unit has not been disclosed.
Reactivated in 1993 at Seay Field, the 49th was constituted in 1936 as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 49th QM Regiment (Truck-Army) (Colored).