13th SC(E) Cases its Colors, Breaks Ground on Memorial

Story by Spc. Naveed Ali Shah
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

The 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) cased its colors during a ceremony June 24 at Fort Hood’s Guidon Field in preparation for the headquarters’ third deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In early January, the headquarters ramped up its training requirements in an effort to ensure every Soldier was qualified to go downrange. As Soldiers were faced with the demands of training in addition to their garrison mission, they met each task with strength and determination, said Command Sgt. Maj. Mark D. Joseph, 13th SC(E).

“There has not been a day since the beginning of our declared war against terrorism without Soldiers from the 13th Sustainment Command supporting warfighters both in Iraq and Afghanistan. So far, more than half of our units are currently deployed or getting ready to deploy. Some of the Soldiers standing here today have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan once - most of them twice or more,” said Brig. Gen. Paul L. Wentz, commanding general, 13th SC(E).

In just over three weeks, the headquarters will deploy. The unit’s mission is to facilitate sustainment operations in the Iraqi Theater of Operations during what will be one of the largest strategic re-posturing of forces and equipment in the last 40 years.

“Making that mission happen is no small feat, but the Soldiers standing before you are trained, prepared and ready to safely and successfully execute our mission,” said Wentz.

During its time in garrison, the unit has partnered with Fort Hood’s sister cities, Temple, Copperas Cove, Killeen, and Belton, for events such as leadership classes for civic leaders, hail and farewell events, and various other community activities.

“I have to say that I have never seen a more outstanding example of community support in all my years of service,” said Wentz.

While this is the unit’s third deployment, many of its Soldiers and Family members will experience the stress and anxiety of deployment for the first time.

Wentz said, “It’s always hard for a Soldier to leave their Family. But sometimes we forget that it’s often more difficult for the Family who’s left behind.”

The Rear Detachment and Family Readiness Teams are charged with providing support for the Families of the 13th during this deployment. The Soldiers will find solace in the knowledge that their Families are taken care of while they are gone.

“You are our heroes and our inner strength. Your sacrifices, support, and love are at the very core of what keeps our Army strong,” said Wentz.

Due to the nature of the 13th SC(E) headquarters, junior Soldiers and noncommissioned officers are often called upon to complete arduous tasks that far exceed their pay-grade.

“Each time they are called these Soldiers rise to the challenge and perform their duties with class,” said Wentz, “I know what you are capable of and I know you will make us all proud.”

The ceremony also featured a groundbreaking for the 13th SC(E) Memorial, sponsored by the 13th Corps Support Command Association.

Many other Fort Hood units already have memorials for their fallen Soldiers and after the 13th redeployed from Operation Iraqi Freedom II in January 2005, volunteers and veterans formed the 13th COSCOM Association with the construction of a memorial as one of its primary goals, said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Dan Elder, 13th COSCOM Association.

“The unit deployed to Katrina, and then for a second time to Iraq, which sidetracked the memorial project,” said Elder, “It was re-energized when Brig. Gen. Wentz assumed command of the 13th.”

When completed, the memorial will prominently feature the 13th SC(E) crest raised in the center of the monument.

Surrounding the crest will be plaques commemorating the lives of Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice while assigned to the 13th.

In front of the memorial will be a brick path, each brick inscribed with a personalized message for the fallen. Benches will surround the memorial for visitors to contemplate the selflessness of our brave Soldiers.

“It’s a way to honor those who have served,” said Elder, “Service is something we’re accustomed to as Soldiers, we don’t always appreciate our own service.


news photo
Brig. Gen. Paul L. Wentz, commander, 13th SC(E) and Command Sgt. Maj. Mark D. Joseph, 13th SC(E), case the unit's colors in preparation for deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 09-11. This will be the third OIF deployment for the 13th, whose responsibilities include logistics support for the entire Iraq theater of operations. (US Army Photo by: Staff Sgt. Joel Gibson, 13th SC(E) PAO)