News: Raider Brigade uncases colors, rededicates memorial
Story by Sgt. Kimberly Lessmeister
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Upon completing a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan, leaders of 4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division uncased the brigade’s colors at Watkins Field and rededicated the memorial to the fallen at Remembrance Park, Sept. 11.
Col. Michael Getchell, the commander of 4-2 SBCT, said Sept. 11 is a significant day in the brigade’s history.
“For the brigade, it exists as a formation because of Sept. 11, 2001,” said Getchell. “The expansion of our Army brought about the reactivation of the (brigade).”
Getchell and Command Sgt. Maj. Oscar Vinson, the brigade’s senior enlisted adviser, unfurled their unit’s colors from the multicam cover in which they were placed less than two months ago.
“The significance is to really highlight to the community the completion of the strategically important mission to enable Afghan Security Forces to take the lead in security operations, at least our completion of that portion of the mission, and also to mark the beginning of the next mission,” Getchell said.
The uncasing also signified the reintegration of the deployed element of the brigade and its rear detachment, known as the Raider Ready Reserve.
“When the Raider Brigade began this deployment, they took on two missions: conducting security force assistance operations, but they also provided a provisional rifle company here at JBLM prepared for worldwide deployment as part of the Raider Ready Reserve,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, the commander of 7th Infantry Division.
The majority of the brigade conducted missions in southern Kandahar while units such as 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, were attached to another brigade in the Zabul province.
Though the deployment was the brigade’s third since its reactivation in 2006, it was the first time 4-2 SBCT deployed to Afghanistan.
Getchell said he is proud to have been part of the brigade’s history.
“For all our Raider soldiers, we have a debt to those who have gone before us,” he said. “We must honor that legacy … and the legacy of what we’ve accomplished with our continued mission accomplishment in our daily efforts.”
Families of soldiers who were killed during the brigade’s deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan attended the uncasing ceremony and also the memorial re-dedication ceremony.
Soldiers from the brigade completely surrounded the memorial site as leaders from the two companies that lost soldiers in Afghanistan unveiled new monuments in the brigade’s area of Remembrance Park.
Staff Sgt. Rayvon Battle Jr., Staff Sgt. Wesley Williams, Pfc. Markie Sims, and Sgt. David Chamber's names were added to the brigade’s wall of heroes, a physical reminder of the soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country during the brigade’s last deployment.
“Our greatest commitment to those who’ve gone before us is not to forget,” Getchell said. “Sept. 11 is a powerful day for us as a nation, but also a formation, and for us being able to add the names of the four from the OEF deployment to the wall to join their brothers who’re up there … is a powerful statement that they won’t be forgotten as they over watch all our actions from this day forward.”
Getchell said it’s important to keep in mind that by adding the four soldiers’ names to the wall, their friends and family would not be remembering war, but their loved ones’ service.
“We’re always grounded to some foundation and for me, as a leader, it’s important that we remember those who’ve gone before, they’re still part of our family,” said Getchell. “Their families are still part of our family.”
Getchell expressed his gratitude toward everyone who was affected by the deployment.
“I’m incredibly proud of every single Raider soldier and their family members for the perseverance and the resiliency demonstrated on this long deployment,” he said. “I’m also incredibly thankful to the Joint Base Lewis-McChord community, our higher headquarters at 7th Division and I Corps for (watching over) our families and, most important, certainly thankful to the Lakewood community for their continued support, thought and courage while we were deployed.”