61st Multifunction Medical Battalion cases its colors for deployment

Story by Pfc. Crystal Eldridge
13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office

The 61st Multifunctional Medical Battalion cased its colors Friday in preparation for deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

The ceremony, held at the 13th Corps Support Command Guidon Field, signified the battalion command's upcoming absence due to deployment. The colors will be uncased in a similar ceremony when the battalion returns.

This is not the first time the battalion has cased its colors. Activated August 7, 1942, as 61st Medical Battalion Motorized, the unit has undergone several activations and deactivations as well as deployments. Most recently, the battalion was reactivated on January 16, 1993, and redeployed from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom in August of 2004.

Participation in numerous battles since World War II has earned the battalion a total of 20 campaign streamers including two Meritorious Unit Commendations and one Army Superior Unit Award, making it the most decorated corps-level medical unit in the Army today.

Now the 61st's Soldiers are deploying again.

"You will return knowing you have contributed significantly," said Col. Jim Rice, commander of the 1st Medical Brigade, during the casing ceremony Friday. "Everyone is critical to the success of the mission."

Everyone, Rice continued, includes deployed Soldiers, those staying here at Fort Hood, and especially families.

"I thank you and your families for the sacrifices you make in the name of democracy."

61st commander Lt. Col. William B. Grimes added that, as Pres. George W. Bush said after the Sept. 11 attacks, "Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America."

Grimes said this foundation is evident in the men and women who serve in uniform every day. The Soldiers of the 61st in particular, he said, are equipped and prepared to meet any challenge which may come their way.

Grimes then quoted Thomas Paine, declaring, "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day that my children may have peace."


news photo
Command Sgt. Maj. Jairo Gallego and Lt. Col. William Grimes roll the colors of the 61st Medical Battalion in preparation for the command's deployment. The colors stay with the command sergeant major during deployment and will be uncased when the command returns to Fort Hood. Photo by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge, 13th COSCOM Public Affairs Specialist