News: Gunslingers induct honorary regimental colonel
Story by Spc. Nathan Goodall
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Col. Michael J. Brokovich, retired, was inducted as the honorary colonel of the 377th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade during an induction ceremony at the Cascade Community Club, Nov. 29.
“The battalion has worked really hard to develop the history of the regiment,” said Maj. Will B. Freds, the executive officer for 1st Battalion, 377th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade. “In that process, we have identified and now inducted an honorary colonel to make our regimental history a little more full and to connect us to our past.”
Obtaining the rank of colonel during service is a requirement to be inducted as the honorary colonel. While Brokovich filled that requirement during his time at the Pentagon, it was his time with the 377th Field Artillery Regiment that earned him the title, said Freds.
Brokovich was a gun pilot, and later, a battery commander with the 377th Field Artillery Regt. during the Vietnam War, before aviation was separated from the unit.
At the induction ceremony, Brokovich told war stories and talked about what the regiment was like for him during his time in service.
“It’s a fantastic honor, because we all understand who we are as of present, but we gain a lot in our identity when we understand our past more,” Freds said. “Our identity is much fuller now as we understand and see someone who stood with the 377th identity back in another conflict so many years ago.”
Freds said the honorary colonel is chosen through consensus by the different colonels currently in the regiment. Criteria for selecting an inductee include conducting a historical analysis and determining his credentials.
Lt. Col. Charles H. Roede, the 1-377 FA commander, started talking to Brokovich through email about the regiment’s history, Brokovich said.
“Out of the blue, Colonel Roede asked me if I would agree to be the honorary colonel of the regiment. I thought it would be a great opportunity to get back with what I love. I’m Army through and through,” Brokovich said.
Brokovich traveled from Abilene, Texas, to Joint Base Lewis-McChord to spend some time with 1-377 FA. He was the guest speaker at the regiment’s all-ranks formal ball, a long standing military tradition where units gather to reflect on the past year and build camaraderie within the unit, in addition to speaking at the induction ceremony.
Brokovich also participated in a M777 155mm howitzer cannon live fire. Being with the unit was a remarkable experience, he said.
“I was honored to accept [the title] and was more than happy to come out here, I just had a ball firing the howitzer and being with soldiers,” Brokovich said. “I really enjoyed that— smelling the cordite, being out there in the field and the fresh air. I miss that.”
Brokovich was glad to see soldiers with the regiment reflected the same values as soldiers did during his time in service.
“I use to tell my people that teamwork means you’re all pulling in the same direction at the same time, so you all need to work together and these guys appear to be doing that,” Brokovich said.