Families cheered, babies were kissed and loved ones hugged tight last week as soldiers from the 1st ABCT, 3rd ID, the “Raider Brigade,” celebrated homecomings on Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field.
The Raider Brigade deployed to Korea in February of this year, as the rotational armored brigade combat team supporting the 2nd Infantry Division.
Katelyn Satterwhite and her infant daughter, Skylar, were among the throng waiting for their soldier, husband and new father, Specialist Dan Satterwhite with 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st ABCT, 3rd ID, to return. Baby Skylar was born on Father’s Day, and Spc. Satterwhite left for Korea 10 days later.
“It was very fast paced and rough,” Satterwhite told the Courier.
“It was very emotional to see him detach himself from Skylar,” Katelyn Satterwhite said. “It was worth the wait though.”
The couple agreed these separations are not easy on families. However, “It makes us stronger,” Spc. Satterwhite said. His wife agreed, saying she has become more independent as an Army spouse.
The U.S. Army began rotating brigades to Korea in 2015, after inactivating the permanently stationed armored brigade (1ABCT, 2nd Infantry Division) that had been stationed there. The Raider Brigade replaced 2nd ABCT, 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, and is being replaced by 3rd ABCT, 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss, Texas.
The mission of the Raider Brigade in Korea is to partner with the United States’ Republic of Korean allies, support the Republic of Korea – United States Alliance, and deter North Korean aggression, stated a news release from 1st ABCT, 3rd ID public affairs.
This rotation to Korea also marked the first time since the Korean War that 3rd ID units had deployed to the Korean Peninsula, public affairs officials said. During the Korean War, 3rd Infantry Division soldiers earned 13 Medals of Honor and suffered 2,160 killed and almost 8,000 wounded in action.
The brigade mission will conclude later in the month with an official handover in Korea, according to Raider Brigade public affairs.
Unlike previous rotational deployment iterations, 1st ABCT is taking back with them portions of the Korean Enduring Equipment Set or KEES, which is equipment that had remained in Korea since the 2015 inactivation of the 1st ABCT, 2nd ID.
An ABCT consists of just over 4,000 personnel of which the vast majority deployed to Korea. The transition with 3rd ABCT, 1st AD out of Fort Bliss takes almost 30 days and will be complete later in October. During the transition, a high state of readiness must be maintained so as each flight arrives in Korea there is a one for one swap of personnel. This ensures there is no gap in readiness by the rotational brigades in Korea.
In Korea, the brigade was split between two major bases one north of Seoul (Camp Casey base complex) and one south of Seoul (Camp Humphreys), according to public affairs. Most of the vehicle gunnery was conducted at Rodriguez Live Fire complex. In Korea the brigade qualified 100 percent of crews on gunnery.
While in Korea, the brigade had three soldiers win their categories in the 2nd Infantry Division Best Warrior Competition. Two went on to win the 8th Army Best Warrior Competition, and one, Corporal Jacob Bee, won the U.S. Army Pacific Competition and finished second at the Army wide competition last week.In Korea, Raider soldiers completed professional development schools, competed in Best Medic, Best MI Soldier, Expert Field Medical Badge, spur rides, sent a team to compete in the Sullivan Cup, did cultural tours, and numerous other training events. Raider sustainers delivered more than 806,000 gallons of fuel and 70,000 parts during the rotation while maintaining their ability to “Fight Tonight.”
In addition to the video and gallery below, you can view the virtual reality experience of this event here: