News: ‘Black Knights’ deactivate
Story by Pfc. Andrew Ingram
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Soldiers of 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, bid farewell to the 549th Quartermaster Company during a deactivation ceremony at Fort Carson, June 28.
With “Black Knights” soldiers of the 549th QM looking on, company commander, Capt. William Hall, presented the unit guidon to Lt. Col. Alanna Cook, commander, 68th CSSB, and Command Sgt. Maj. Percy Deering, battalion senior enlisted leader, who cased the military standard, signifying the unit’s deactivation from service.
Hall said he was proud of his soldiers for their accomplishments during his 17 months as their commander.
“Soldiers, thank you for all your hard work, and ‘never quit’ attitude, regardless of the situation,” Hall said. “You take on every duty assigned with pride and excellence. For that, my hat goes off to you, as well as to your families, for all their sacrifices.
“The experience of commanding this great company in their final chapter has been an awesome journey,” he said. “I will cherish the memories and take the lessons learned with me to my next endeavor.”
Soldiers of the 549th QM provided shower, laundry and clothing repair services during deployments overseas and large-scale training missions.
Units deactivate for multiple reasons, ranging from manning cuts to new technologies or tactics that render their mission unnecessary, said Hall.
With the U.S. military mission in Iraq complete, and forces in Afghanistan drawing down, the Department of the Army decided to discontinue the shower, laundry and clothing repair career field, deactivating companies like the 549th QM Company.
During the next few months, Black Knights soldiers will retrain to meet the needs of the Army and join new formations.
“As our Army transforms itself to a more lean combat formation with a restrictive personnel cap, services, such as shower, laundry and clothing repair, will have to be provided through other means,” said Cook, who presided over the ceremony as the reviewing officer. “In a time when Army structure must be reduced, it’s understandable why the Army reached a decision to reduce field service companies, such as the 549th QM Company.”
During their recent deployment to Iraq, the 549th QM soldiers dispersed across the country, running six laundry sites, laundering more than 100,000 bundles of laundry; and two shower sites, providing more than 5,000 showers.
In addition to tasks specific to their career field, the quartermaster soldiers also assisted U.S. Forces-Iraq in its mission to draw down forces, operating two fixed-materiel redistribution yards and 10 mobile locations, returning $70 million worth of equipment into the supply system, and properly disposing of another $70 million worth of damaged or outdated equipment.
“American soldiers are known for their adaptability, flexibility and capability to do anything asked of them. The soldiers you see before you are the epitome of this,” Cook said. “I know I will remember the 549th QM, always. You have a proud history here at Fort Carson, and will always be on the ‘Stagecoach’ Team.”
The company guidon will be returned to the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry for storage, historical documentation and for safe-keeping in the event the unit reactivates in accordance with the needs of the Army.