News: 'Dandy First' 103rd Engineer Battalion Change of Command
Story by Maj. Angela King-Sweigart
FORT MIFFLIN, Pa. – The 103rd Engineer Battalion, 213th Regional Support Group, Pennsylvania Army National Guard, held a change-of-command and an assumption-of-responsibility ceremony here, July 12.
During the ceremony, Lt. Col. Kurt E. Nielsen and Command Sgt. Major Nick E. Lazor a resident of Pittsburgh, took charge of the unit from Lt. Col. Christopher D. McDevitt, originally of Turtle Creek, and Command Sgt. Maj. James Stone.
McDevitt, who had commanded the unit since 2012, said about his experience, “It is both every humbling and tremendously exciting to command an organization that traces its existence directly to Benjamin Franklin; the character of my Soldiers reflects the patriotism of the men Franklin initially recruited to defend our young nation. Franklin said, ‘Energy and persistence conquer all things,’ and although he didn’t know it at the time, I am certain he was talking about the Soldiers of the 103rd. My time as their commander has been the highlight of my military career.”
Under his leadership the unit completed several challenging annual trainings and oversaw deployments, including the 252nd Engineer Company’s ongoing deployment to Afghanistan. McDevitt is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and employed by the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Nielsen, the historic unit’s incoming commander is looking ahead. “A lot is said about the history of the 103rd, and it is a significant contribution that the unit has made to the national defense for more than 250 years. However, my focus is on the future, conflicts throughout the world show us how dangerous a time we live in. With the Army looking to maximize every dollar spent, it is unlikely that the 213th Regional Support Group won't be a part of the Army's operational plans for the future, and the 103rd will be ready to support whatever the group is called on to do.
Nielsen is a graduate of Cornell University and works for Milton Hershey School.
Nicknamed “Dandy First” during the Civil War, the 103rd Engineer Battalion, 213th Regional Support Group, is one of a handful of Army units that traces their lineage to the colonial era. The unit is a descendant of the Associators, a group of colonial men formed in Philadelphia in 1747 by Ben Franklin. The unit has remained in service since, and is the oldest continually serving unit in the Pennsylvania National Guard. Today, the unit’s headquarters is still located in downtown Philadelphia in the armory building on the Drexel University campus.
The is comprised of heavy construction and combat engineer companies capable of building roads and destroying obstacles and a military police company.
For more information ‘like’ the 213th Regional Support Group on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/213RSG