By Sgt. 1st Class Jason Epperson
4-25th ABCT PAO
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Spartans of 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, officially relinquished responsibility and operations of Forward Operating Base Salerno, and the Khowst and Paktya provinces, to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air-Assault), Task Force Rakkasan, based at Fort Campbell, Ky., in a transfer of authority ceremony, Oct. 6.
Several high-ranking U.S. officials and Afghan dignitaries attended the ceremony, which was marked by the traditional casing and uncasing of the unit colors by soldiers of the Spartan and Rakkasan brigades.
The TOA marks the official end of the Spartans’ mission in Afghanistan. It is also the end of the brigade's second deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Mayville, Regional Command East and Combined Joint Task Force-1 commanding general, praised the effort and commitment the Spartan Brigade’s displayed during its tour in Afghanistan.
“This incredible team has been asked to some extraordinary tasks,” Mayville said. “Everything I’ve ever asked of this brigade and leadership, they’ve delivered. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Mayville recognized the sacrifices the Spartans had made during the deployment.
“It did not come without sacrifice and we mourn their losses for those we had to send home.”
Mayville welcomed the Rakkasans, whom he said were no strangers to Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Col. Morris Goins, Task Force Spartan commander, cited the accomplishments of the Afghan counterparts – accomplishments that did not come easily.
“The Afghans lost several officers and several soldiers along the way and we, Task Force Spartan, lost several paratroopers as well,” Goins said. “To the families and friends of our fallen, I will leave you with these words:
It is not why they died or how they died. It’s all about what they stood for and how they lived. When you think of them often, think of them with a smile because that’s what they deserve and that’s they would have wanted.”
Goins then thanked the Afghan counterparts, contractors and family members.
“Ten months ago, I stood in this spot and told everyone that the Spartans would do what we did in the battle of Thermopylae; we would make a difference. From Command Sgt. Maj. Gardner and I, to the Spartans and paratroopers of Task Force 4-25, you have proven that you know your profession. Thank you.”