FORT LEE, Va. (October 21, 2010) -- A sunny and cool fall morning greeted the Soldiers of the 61st Ordnance Brigade as they prepared for a ceremony that would close one chapter and continue another in armament history.
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 61st Ordnance Brigade, cased the unit colors at the Ordnance Campus parade field Friday while HHC, 59th Ordnance Brigade, uncased theirs, marking the unit’s arrival at the new Home of the Ordnance – Fort Lee.
Col. Pharisse Berry, 61st Ordnance Bde. commander ,and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert A. Tolbert, 61st Ordnance Bde. command sergeant major, performed the ceremonious casing and uncasing for the two brigades with long histories of service to the nation.
First established in 1943, the 61st performed a wide variety of ordnance missions during World War II. The unit was inactivated and re-designated a number of times before settling at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in the late 1980s where the brigade exercised command and control of all personnel serving at the Ordnance School
The 59th Ordnance Brigade, also organized in 1943, traces its history through World War II, Korea and as part of the guided missile division of the Ordnance Training Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama where they ensured students of the Ordnance Munitions and Electronics Maintenance School were proficient in their military occupational specialty.
Col. Clark LeMasters Jr., U.S. Army Ordnance School commandant and chief of Ordnance, and told the Soldiers and the spectators the move from Aberdeen and Redstone is beneficial to the corps.
"Today, the 59th Brigade becomes the sole training brigade for the Ordnance Corps," LeMasters said. "It is now responsible for training nearly every ordnance Soldier who goes forward into the operational force."
"This is not a bad thing, the end of a chapter for one unit and a beginning of a new chapter for another unit," LeMasters said. "So, as we say good-bye to Huntsville neighbors and say welcome to our new neighbors at Fort Lee, it’s a great opportunity today to share with us. I assure you that the Ordnance Brigade will continue to provide our Army and the Marine Corps with the best trained, fit and disciplined Soldiers and Marines in the world."
Berry spoke about the open-arms welcome the unit received when it first arrived to Fort Lee earlier this year.
"We cannot thank all of you enough for that reception and your continued support to all of our Soldiers," he said.
He also thanked the 59th’s former commander, Col. Lee Merritt, and Command Sgt. Major Angel Clarkdavis for a smooth transition.
As a part of the Base Realignment and Closure Law of 2005, both the 61st and the 59th moved from their former homes to help create what is now known as the Sustainment Center of Excellence. The 59th will continue its legacy and mission at Fort Lee as facilities are completed and the training transfers are concluded. A provisional unit of the 59th will continue at Redstone Arsenal until the consolidation is complete, said Tolbert.