News: China battalion ends, begins new chapter
Story by Sgt. Bob Yarbrough
FORT STEWART, Ga. – Lt. Col. Joel Smith relinquished command of 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, to Lt. Col. Nathan Minami during a ceremony held on Cottrell Field, Fort Stewart, Ga., Jan. 27, 2014.
Smith, who commanded the “China” battalion since Sept. 23, 2011, added a milestone in the unit’s history, as their commander for their first deployment to Afghanistan. The 3-15 infantrymen, with Smith commanding, were the main effort for training Afghan National Security Forces and ensuring the safety of major supply routes in Wardak Province, one of Afghanistan’s most kinetic environments, taking over as the “fighting season,” or the summer months, began.
“The defining part of my time at 3-15 will always be our deployment to Wardak, Afghanistan,” said Smith, addressing the soldiers in formation at the ceremony for the last time. “It is a source of immense pride, and I owe thanks to every member of the battalion for their sacrifice to the nation, persistence in the face of daunting challenges, and commitment to each other.”
Col. Kimo Gallahue, commander of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, spoke of Smith’s accomplishments in Wardak. “I want you to know that I am absolutely impressed and awed by the accomplishments of you, and the China Battalion, and your time in Wardak,” said the Frankfort, Ky. native.
Gallahue also thanked Nichole Smith, Lt. Col. Smith’s wife, for her untiring support of her husband, and 3-15 Inf. Regt. “She has truly been the rock of the 'Can Do' family,” he said. “During the deployment, her personal concern for the welfare of spouses and families was unwavering and absolute.”
“As one chapter ends, another begins,” said Gallahue, as he welcomed Lt. Col. Nathan Minami to the Vanguard Brigade. “I am absolutely confident he will pick up where Lt. Col. Smith left off, and lead this battalion to countless accomplishments.”
Minami, the incoming commander for 3-15 Inf., comes to Fort Stewart from the University of Mississippi, where he served as the Professor of Military Science since June, 2012. “Command Sgt. Maj. Parker, and the soldiers of 3-15 Infantry, thank you for all of your hard work in preparing for today,” said Minami, speaking to the China Battalion soldiers, as their commander, for the first time. “You look magnificent and continue to honor the legacy of our regiment. Thank you for all you do, and will continue to do for our nation.”