Fort Hood, Texas –
After mobilizing and demobilizing more than 20,000 U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers and National Guard troops here over the past 12 months, the 642nd Regional Support Group from Decatur, Georgia, cased their unit’s colors and passed on the colors of Mobilization Support Brigade to the command team of the 561st RSG from Omaha, Nebraska, during a ceremony on Sadowski Field, Nov. 18.
Lt. Col. Carlos Nunez, the 642nd’s deputy commander, joined with Command Sgt. Maj. Denise Demps to case the unit colors, and pass on the mobilization mission to the 561st. Nunez filled in for the 642nd’s commander, Col. Christian Neary, who could not attend the ceremony due to illness.
III Armored Corps and Fort Hood Deputy Commanding General for Support (U.K.) Maj. Gen. Michael Keating served as the reviewing officer for the ceremony. He lauded the efforts of the 642nd during his remarks.
“You have set the standard and done everything you can to deliver far beyond expectation when it comes to mission achievements and putting your people first,” Keating said. The general noted a major change in 2022 for the Mobilization Support Brigade. When the 642nd arrived to begin their mission, COVID-19 restrictions were still in place. As health conditions allowed the easing of those restrictions, it had a major impact on the mobilization mission at North Fort Hood, Demps said.
“The highlight for most of our Soldiers was the efforts to … end of the restriction of movement, and re-institute free movement of Soldiers at North Fort Hood,” she said. “We advocated for that. It happened (in) late March. Since then, the Soldiers … have made comments about how well the quality of life has improved.”
Demps added that another highlight was being able to re-open USO and Red Cross offices at North Fort Hood as COVID restrictions eased.
“When the Soldiers are coming or leaving, … they want to see friendly faces,” she said. “Having someone that’s not in a green suit, not sergeant major, saying ‘farewell, we’re thinking about you, we’re praying for you.’ It’s important that the Soldiers see that they are supported by the community.”
To the incoming command team of the 561st, Col. David Newman and Command Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Leising, Keating gave a “warm Texas welcome,” though he noted temperatures were in the upper 40s during ceremony, and urged the new Mobilization Support Brigade to be up for whatever challenges lie ahead.
“We’re excited to see where you take this mission and continue to meet this nation’s call for personnel down range,” he said, “while at the same time, remaining poised to respond to an even larger requirement should circumstances around the world demand a much larger scale of mobilization than might presently be the case.”
Nunez read remarks prepared by Neary. He choked up briefly as his commander discussed the loving support of his family at home and the steadfast support of his “battle-buddy” Demps. To the Soldiers of the 642nd, Nunez read, “In the midst of serving others, you made the best year ever.”
In his brief remarks upon taking command of the mobilization mission at Fort Hood, Newman wished Neary a speedy recovery and thanked the 642nd for their assistance in the transition. He also spoke of the partnership the Mobilization Support Brigade has with many Fort Hood units and organizations.
“We look forward to continuing to partner with you caring for the citizen Soldiers from across the Army Reserve and the National Guard who have answered the nation’s call to deploy,” he said.
To his own troops, Newman said, “It is with a deep sense of humility and fierce resolve that we assume this role. As we care for the Soldiers as part of our mission and prepare for large scale mobilization operations, we must also care for the 561st Storm Team throughout our entire mobilization.
“This will be the ‘Year of the Storm,’” he concluded, “and we will always stay true to our creed of being ready in need. This is Storm Six, signing onto the net.”