By CATRINA FRANCIS
Gold Standard Senior Staff Writer
Yesterday Fort Knox bid the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, adieu as the unit cased its colors for the final time on a warm but slightly windy day on Brooks Field.
During his invocation Chaplain (Maj.) Charles Gordon, the brigade’s chaplain, asked the Lord to deliver the Duke Brigade from all of its enemies because there are many.
“Keep us safe Lord, we know safety only comes from you,” he prayed during the invocation.
Maj. Gen. Paul Funk II, the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, Kansas commanding general, reviewing officer and son of Kentucky, said it was a great day to be home. He also thanked everyone for attending yesterday’s historic event.
“We serve selflessly (and) answer the nation’s call,” said Funk. “For the time being will case colors of 3-1 Duke Brigade (which) holds a story that’s proud.”
Funk also highlighted some of the brigade’s history and how instrumental it was during America’s infancy to the nation becoming the world power that it is today. He also showed the parallel of the brigade through a John “The Duke” Wayne quote: “Give the American people a great cause, and there is nothing they can’t lick.”
Funk charged the Duke Brigade Soldiers to go forth and make the Army better.
“I’m honored to serve with you under these Army colors,” he said. “When these colors fly again it’s because the Army (needs you). Dukes, duty first, victory.”
Col. Bill Ostlund, the brigade’s commander, began by paying tribute to the fallen Duke Soldiers—Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Lacey, 1st Lt. Jason Togi and Spc. Angel Lopez.
“These are the Soldiers I’ve been privileged to command,” Ostlund said about the fallen.
He said it was 699 days ago when the brigade stood on Brooks Field and he took command of the 3-1 BCT.
“That day the Duke Brigade was recently returned from Afghanistan, not reset, and we were preparing to train for unannounced ambiguous and every changing mission,” explained Ostlund. “(The) 1st ID was deployed but we had 1st ID training guidance and guidance directly from the FORSCOM (Forces Command) commander—Gen. (David) Rodriguez. He directed we train the brigade as a decisive action force operating in an austere (counterinsurgency) environment.
“When we were postured to deploy, I charged each Duke Soldier with a simple task—that was to deploy with honor and redeploy with honor. Duke leaders ensured this task was complete.”
Ostlund pointed out that the brigade deployed over multiple months across the whole of Afghanistan, a country the size of Texas. They neutralized the enemy, advised and assisted the Afghan Security Forces and bettered Afghan governance. He added that their force was trained and disciplined by every metric they fought and advised well.
It was during this deployment that the brigade received orders to inactivate.
“In fact we began inactivating before we redeployed,” Ostlund said. “Our incredible rear operations began the heavy lifting associated with inactivation while still pushing combat power forward, receiving redeploying Soldiers and maintaining the left behind equipment and facilities and leading those left on Fort Knox.”
Ostlund also said for the past few weeks he’s been thanking individual Soldiers, leaders, Families and the community.
“As Gen. (Raymond) Odierno, the 38th chief of staff of the United States Army stated: ‘The strength of our nation is our Army, the strength of our Army is our Soldiers, the strength of our Soldiers is our Families. That is what makes us Army Strong!’” said Ostlund. “I’ll be so bold as to add the strength of our Families is our larger community. Again, thank you to all Duke supporters.”
Ostlund pointed out that Duke Soldiers have answered the country’s call and he will forever be extremely proud and humbled to have served as Duke 6.
“I am proud to stand by your side, anytime, anywhere—as together we strive to hand down our country larger and better than we received it,” he said.
He also thanked the brigade Families as well as his own wife, Heather, who he said has done an exceptional job of raising three incredible sons.
“As we case the colors of 3-1 IBCT, until again called to the active roles—likely in time of conflict—I will leave you with a quote from Steven Pressfield’s “Gates of Fire,” delivered by Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Meyers at his recent retirement ceremony: ‘When a warrior fights not for himself, but for his brothers, when his most passionately sought goal is neither glory nor his own life’s preservation, but to spend his substance for them, his comrades, not to abandon them, not to prove unworthy of them, then his heart truly has achieved contempt for death… This is why the true warrior cannot speak of battle save to his brothers who have been there with him. This truth is too holy—too sacred for words,’” Ostlund said.