The 42nd Fires Brigade was activated Thursday on Fort Stewart.
Col. John O’Grady and Command Sgt. Maj. Delmer Traylor took command of the new unit with Maj. Gen. Mike Murray, 3rd Infantry Division and Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield commander, serving as reviewing officer.
“It’s an absolute honor to be a part of the activiation of this magnificent brigade,” Murray said. “While this ceremony may be the official activation of the brigade, it’s only the beginning of the work to be done.”
He welcomed O’Grady and Traylor, telling them he and 3rd ID Command Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson look forward to working with them as they continue “standing up” the new brigade. Speaking to the small formation of soldiers representing the new brigade, Murray talked about the history of the 42nd Fires Brigade, which has been activated and then inactivated several times since it was first constituted as part of the Regular Army in 1918.
The unit, originally called the Coast Artillery Corps, saw action during World War I, in Southwest Asia, in Saudi Arabia during Desert Shield and liberation and defense of Kuwait during Desert Storm.
He told the new “Wheel Horses” warriors that soldiers, officers and leaders will come and go, but the unit’s colors remain steadfast. He challenged them to follow their colors.
An brochure provided by the 3rd ID public affairs office said the new unit’s scarlet and yellow colors reflect its artillery tradition. Staff Sgt. Aaron Knowles, 42nd Fires Brigade public affairs noncommissioned officer, said his unit would be a tenant unit of the 3rd ID and would wear its own unit shoulder patch.
Murray concluded by asking everyone to keep their thoughts and prayers focused on the nearly 3,000 3rd ID soldiers still serving downrange.
“Before us is an awesome opportunity,” O’Grady told his soldiers. “It’s a great challenge. For me, a challenge means an opportunity ... There’s an incredibly proud tradition in the (3rd ID), and it’s still playing out today. We absolutely must honor that tradition.”
O’Grady told members of the media that it was premature to say what units will make up the new brigade, explaining it would depend on discussions with the division commander. He said, however, it was in the Army’s plans to build its new fires brigades to support commanders with fire support. That might entail what he called “nesting” fires and fire capabilities within the brigade to provide fire support.
“Right now, our initial mission is to build operational capabilities,” O’Grady said. “We have approximately 100 soldiers at this time.”
He said he understood the brigade would continue to grow, but added there was no mold to follow.