FORT HOOD, Texas — The 15th Special Troops Battalion and 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), cased their colors Aug. 20 during a traditional color casing ceremony on Fort Hood's Cooper Field in preparation for the "Wagonmasters'" third deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Soldiers assigned to the Wagonmasters brigade, family members and many community partners enjoyed the customary rose presentation which symbolizes the sustainer's farewell to his lady; the giving of a basket of carrots as a token of appreciation to the horse cavalry; the casing of the brigade colors; the 1st Cavalry Division Band performing "Hit the Leather" and "The Army Song"; and the time-honored cavalry charge.
During the review of the troops, Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood; Col. Larry Phelps, commander; Lt. Col. Mark Paget, deputy commanding officer; and Command Sgt. Maj. Nathaniel Bartee Sr., senior non-commissioned officer 15th SB, inspected the troops mounted on horses provided by the 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment.
"We, as a community, hate casing ceremonies," Lynch said, "because it means Soldiers are leaving.
"All of you like uncasing ceremonies much more than you do casing ceremonies, but we, as a nation, needed this casing ceremony," Lynch said. "Because there's no unit in the United States Army better prepared, better equipped or better led to take the mission they've got to do in Q-West than the 15th Sustainment Brigade."
The 15th SB, then known as the Division Support Command, deployed with the 1st Cavalry Division in December 2004 in support of OIF 02 and was instrumental in the support of the Task Force Baghdad which included more than 39,000 Soldiers and international coalition partners.
Throughout the most recent deployment, the "Wagonmasters" assumed command of 5,000 Soldiers in eight battalions in two locations of Baghdad's area of operations; provided sustainment support operations for 13 combat teams; and conducted over 5,800 logistic patrols covering more than four million miles.
"What is most remarkable on the eve of our deployment is what we have accomplished in two years of 'dwell,'" Lt. Col. Paula Lodi, commander 15th Special Troops Battalion, "Wranglers" said, referring to the time between the deployments.
The Wagonmasters and the Wranglers accomplished many support and sustainment missions during their dwell time.
These missions included support for all major garrison events; daily mission support and contingency operation support; planning and coordinating two Freedom Fest events and two Phantom Thunder motorcycle rides; developing a Canadian Officer Partnership; providing support for firefighting missions for Fort Hood and hurricane support in Louisiana.
For the duration of the upcoming deployment, the Soldiers will support the 3rd Infantry Division and Soldiers and civilians in Multi-National Division - North and provide command and control of support missions from Habur Gate on the Turkish border to just north of Baghdad.
"So, here we go again ... once more.
"We have a tough mission facing us, but when it's just too hard for everyone else, it's just about right for the 'Wagonmasters,' Phelps said.