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1st Brigade cases colors, preparing for Iraq
color casing 5
The 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team cased its color Friday ahead of its deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
The 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team is the Army’s first brigade combat team to have deployed to Iraq three times. The “Raiders” cased their colors for their fourth deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom  Friday ahead of their scheduled departure.
The 1st Brigade was established on Nov. 12, 1917, at Fort Bliss, Texas. The brigade fought in World War I and II, Korea and Vietnam, and more recently served in Kosovo and in the War on Terror.
“It’s fitting that we are returning to Baghdad,” said Col. Roger Cloutier, 1st HBCT commander.
Baghdad is where the brigade began its fight in the early years of the Iraq War, Cloutier said.
The unit suffered losses in those first fierce days, the colonel recalled.
“Sgt. First Class Paul Smith was the 51st medal of honor winner,” he said.
On April 4, the 1st Brigade was the first unit to cross into Baghdad and eventually captured Baghdad International Airport. Smith lost his life that day, performing acts of selfless heroism, Cloutier said.
Many of the brigade’s nearly 4,000 soldiers have had multiple deployments, the colonel said.
“We have a lot of combat experience in the brigade,” Cloutier said.
The commander said his soldiers, and their families, are prepared for its mission of advise and assist.
“We’re ready to just get on with it,” he said.
The Brigade had 20 months to prepare for its latest deployment, Cloutier added. Prior to the brigade’s deployment to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin in October, its soldiers had just completed their last mission as a Consequence Management Response Force.
The CMRF mission put the 1st Brigade “on standby” for possible terrorist attack on U.S. soil or to be ready to handle natural disasters within the continental United States, and helped prepare its soldiers for another OIF deployment.
“It feels like joining a veteran team,” said Pfc. Jeremiah Jensen, who is deploying for the first time. “They (1st Brigade leaders) know what they’re doing and they know how to lead you.”
Jensen said his family is prepared for his deployment, and knows he’ll be “taken care of.”
“I’m on the colonel’s staff,” he said.
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