KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, based out of 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, stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., in a transfer of authority ceremony Oct. 6, 2012.
The ceremony was attended by several high-ranking U.S. officials and Afghan dignitaries.
The ceremony was marked by the traditional casing and uncasing of the ‘Colors’ by soldiers from the Spartan and Rakkasan Brigades.
The TOA marks the official end of the Spartan’s mission in Afghanistan. It is also the end of the brigade's second deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
During the ceremony, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Mayville, Regional Command East and Combined Joint Task Force-1 commanding general, showed appreciation for the effort and commitment that the Spartan Brigade showed 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 stranger to Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Col. Morris Goins, Task Force Spartan commander, cited the accomplishments of the Afghan counter parts accomplishments did not come easily.
“The Afghan’s 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.”