Season of Change for the Wagonmasters
Story and Photos by: Sgt. Mathew C. Cooley
15th Sus. Bde. Public Affairs
FORT HOOD, Texas — The Soldiers of 15th Sustainment Brigade gathered on Cooper Field Feb. 15 to bid farewell to the brigade’s commander, Col. Aundre Piggee, and welcome a new commander, Col. Larry Phelps.
But commanders were not the only thing changing out on the field, as part of the Army’s continuing transformation, the brigade also changed higher headquarters from the 1st Cavalry Division to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
“Thank you for taking time out of your hectic schedules … to help me celebrate the greatest birthday I’ll ever have,” Piggee said at the beginning of his farewell speech.
Piggee, a Stamps, Ark. native, commanded the brigade since July 2005, and led the unit through its last deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Under his leadership, the brigade executed logistical support missions for Operation Together Forward, Operation Constant Solidarity, Watchful Purpose, Baghdad Security Plan and Surge Operation.
During the deployment, brigade Soldiers completed 6,545 combat logistics patrols, involving 111, 916 vehicles and 186,667 Soldiers driving over 4 million miles. The brigade flew 13,030 pallets of supplies to forward operating bases, produced 10.5 million cases of bottled water and supplied 178 million gallons of fuel in addition to many other logistical feats.
“Col. Piggee is a great leader, tactician, [and] logistician,” said Lt. Col. Darrell Aubrey, officer in charge of support operations for 15th SB. “He takes time out of his busy schedule to make sure that people are being taken care of.”
Phelps, a Greenville, Ala. native, assumed command of the brigade after commanding the 1st Cavalry Division’s rear detachment. Prior to that, Phelps commanded 27th Main Support Battalion, was 1st Cav’s logistics officer, and has deployed to Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in history as a Distinguished Military Graduate from Auburn University and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the United States Army War College.
“I’m absolutely excited to work for him again,” said Maj. Brian Kulm, 15th SB’s financial manager.
Kulm was 1st Cav’s rear detachment chief of staff while Phelps commanded the division’s rear detachment.
“He’s very passionate and excited about what he does,” Kulm continued. “It carries over to everybody who works for him.”
Phelps said to Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, the First Team’s commanding general, in his welcome speech, “You need to know that the Wagonmasters remain ready to support this great division, just as they always have.”
Col. Glenn Grothe, 13th SC(E) Chief of Staff welcomed the Wagonmasters to the 13th family and reminded the logistics Soldiers on the field of their importance to the Army.
“Remember this; while wire diagrams may change and the signs in front of our buildings may change, our ultimate mission remains unchanged,” Grothe said. “We are, and will always be, the lifeblood of the combat arms Soldier,”
The Wagonmasters concluded the ceremony with a pass in review and a final cavalry charge by the 1st Cavalry Division Horse Detachment.
Col Larry Phelps and Col Glenn Grothe
Col Aundre Piggee and his wife
Col Larry Phelps
1st Cavalry Division's Horse Cavalry Detachment Wagon Charge