SCHWEINFURT, Germany — Finney Fitness Facility was crackling with excitement Tuesday as more than 800 members of Schweinfurt’s Dagger Brigade returned home from Iraq.
With the 300 who arrived Monday — and the same number due Wednesday — 1,400 troops will have returned in 36 hours, leaving fewer than 300 soldiers of the thousands who deployed last year still far from home. ...
Along with the scores of soldiers from units such as 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery and the 299th Forward Support Battalion, Tuesday’s group included the brigade’s commander, Col. J.B. Burton.
Marching at the head of a 270-man formation, Burton looked tired, but proud of the tough job he and his soldiers did.
“We had 15 months of hard fighting and 15 months of positive change everywhere Dagger Brigade was located,” Burton said shortly before marching in. ...
“Thank God that our nation produces soldiers like that,” Burton said, when asked about his soldiers and the heroism they displayed over the past 15 months.
“(As commanders) we cannot become jaded to the fact that there are heroics every day,” Burton said, “what the soldiers do is not what normal people do. It makes my heart swell with pride.”
COL Burton handed over responsibility of northwest Baghdad to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), from Fort Campbell, Ky., during a transfer of authority ceremony Nov. 17, at the Camp Liberty Field House.
“… It is with great humility, but with great confidence in the abilities of the Strike Brigade Combat Team, that I relinquish responsibility for Coalition Force efforts in northwest Baghdad,” he said. “We have achieved the tasks that you put before us, but we leave knowing that there is still much to do.”
Though the day was a great one for the Dagger Soldiers, who will be returning home to their families in Germany, Col. William B. Hickman, commander of the 2nd “Strike” BCT, 101st Abn. Div. (AASLT) said, “It is truly a great day to be a Strike Soldier and now a part of the First Team serving in Multi-National Division - Baghdad.”
The brigade redeployed from south Baghdad in September 2006 and spent the last 12 months preparing themselves for this deployment where they look to, through combined efforts, set the conditions for a strong, prosperous Iraqi future.
“We know this mission comes at a pivotal time and that our actions will make a lasting impact,” Hickman continued. “I know our Soldiers and units are ready for the upcoming challenges and opportunities to serve with the Iraqi Security Forces.”
As the Strike Brigade assumes responsibility of operations in northwest Baghdad, they will have four combat-tested battalions, who have spent the last several months conducting operations throughout northwest Baghdad, fighting by their side.
Joining the 2nd BCT, 101st Abn. Div., will be the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment; 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment; 1st Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment; and the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment.