Mixed emotions filled Soldiers Field House March 14 as 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division leaders cased the brigade and battalion colors, and Soldiers with company and battery guidons marched away.
The bittersweet ceremony gave us time to reminisce about the Raider Brigade.
The Armys fourth Stryker brigade served at JBLM for six years, five months and 13 days not counting 16 months to stand up the brigade.
Activated June 1, 2006, 4-2 got its start in an unusual renaming/reflagging ceremony in a deluge on Gray Army Airfield. Two Stryker brigade formations, 1st Bde., 25th Inf. Div., and 2nd Cav. lined the field. In a choreographed exchange, 1-25 cased its colors (to send to Alaska), and 2 CR transferred its colors to the former 1-25 formation. The new 2 CR was on its way to Germany. The former 2 CR uncased the colors to become the 4th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div.
I Corps CG, Lt. Gen. Jim Dubik made his speech brief. We are the U.S. Army, Dubik said. In the sun, we run; in the rain, we train; at night, we fight.
Less than a year later, the Raider Brigade was gearing up for an Iraq deployment when it learned it would leave early as one of five surge brigades. This meant its certification exercise would take place at JBLM, not NTC. Battalions set up FOBs in training- and cantonment areas. Stryker vehicles were everywhere. By doing our day-to-day business on base, we supported 4-2s training. How better to prepare for Baghdad traffic than to traverse JBLM in a 20-ton vehicle during the noon rush hour?
We reminisced about Stryker-POV traffic jams and the Surge.
Colonel John Lehr and Command Sgt. Major John Troxell deployed the Raider Brigade to Iraq in 2007. In September 2009, Col. John Norris and Command Sgt. Major Jeff Huggins led 4-2s return to Iraq. In August 2010, the 4-2 SBCT was dubbed The Last Patrol the last combat unit to depart Iraq.
We reminisced Friday about the 4th Stryker Brigade and its role in Operation Iraqi Freedom history.
In November 2012, Col. Mike Getchell and Command Sgt. Major Oscar Vinson led 4-2 to Afghanistan for a nine-month Operation Enduring Freedom deployment. In June 2013 while the 4-2 began to redeploy home, the Army announced it would inactivate.
We reminisced Friday that we were losing a storied JBLM unit.
It was fitting Col. Jody Miller, an original brigade member, would be the commander who cased 4-2s colors until the next time the nation calls.