FORT SILL, Okla. (May 28, 2015) — Soldiers, families, veterans and friends of the 214th Fires Brigade gathered May 21 at Rinehart Fitness Center to pay one final tribute to the “Leaders Brigade” and the 168th “Make it Happen” Brigade Support Battalion, and see the historic colors cased.
Though they operated separately until 2006, the brigade and battalion share a similar history. Both formed during World War II and saw action in Europe during the war. They both saw their share of inactivations and reactivations in the intervening years, and fate saw fit to bring them together on Fort Sill for nine years. Here the two units functioned as a seamless entity to bring out the best in their subordinate/sister battalions.
“It is not by accident that the 214th is called the ‘Leader Brigade,'” said Maj. Gen. John Rossi, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general. “The brigade has not only shown its colors in combat but in everything that it does.”
For its more than 40 years on Fort Sill, the Leader Brigade had cases full of trophies its Soldiers earned in on-post sporting competitions and commendations for performance in both wartime and peacetime actions across the globe.
From numerous Fort Sill Soldiers and NCOs of the Year awards, to Meritorious Unit citations for action in Afghanistan, as well as gifts from coalition forces in Iraq, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, these hard earned decorations have been carefully packaged and shipped for safekeeping to be ready to provide a rich history lesson to the Soldiers that will someday stand up the 214th Fires Brigade’s next chapter.
“Deactivations are a common occurrence in our Army’s history, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Rossi said. “The Army’s continually changing, and based on what the needs are for the future, to best serve the Army, we often realign and adjust, which causes deactivations and ultimately activations in the future.”
As things stand, the brigade’s deactivation is in line with the restructuring of Fires within the 4th Infantry Division, 214th’s parent unit. For almost a year, the brigade has been working to stand up 4th Division Artillery (Divarty), whose colors were uncased during a ceremony at Fort Carson, Colo. the previous week.
While an inactivation ceremony is not a funeral, and should never be taken for one, it can often have similar emotions and the reunion of family members brought together to bid farewell to one they hold dear to their hearts. In this instance, four former 214th commanders and the family of another were present to watch as the familiar colors were cased.
For a number of the Soldiers present, one of these former commanders, the representative from the 4th Infantry Division, held special significance, Col. Timothy Daugherty, who headed the “Leaders Brigade” from 2011-2013, and deployed with much of the brigade’s leadership to Afghanistan in 2012.
“Seeing the turnout of 214th veterans really drove home the significance of the event,” said Capt. Curtis Cornelius, who deployed with Daugherty. “I deployed with this unit and have worn this patch for a major part of my career, I’m just glad I’m not the only one who feels a bit emotional about this moment.”
While Fort Sill and the Army are losing one of its great assets, it is to be noted that they are not losing the great Soldiers that made the 214th leaders.
Second Battalion, 4th Field Artillery, a highly trained and motivated Multiple Launch Rocket System battalion and the always ready High Mobility Artillery Rocket System 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery and their Soldiers are migrating down the street to fall under the direction of the 75th Field Artillery Brigade. Soldiers of the inactivated 168th Brigade Support Battalion and brigade headquarters have all been given new assignments either on Fort Sill or other installations.
From the first day to the last, the 214th and 168th have accomplished all missions put before them throughout the world, a sentiment best verbalized by “Make it Happen 6″, the commander of the 168th Brigade Support Battalion, Lt. Col. Mark Mays who said, “For those standing in this room and for all who came before us, I can honestly say that we in the 214th and 168th ‘Made it Happen.'”
Photo Credit: Soldiers in the 214th Fires Brigade stand in formation one of their final times at Fort Sill representing the “Leaders Brigade.” (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Joe Dees, 214th FiB PAO)