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Third Army uncases colors at new Patton Hall

June 10, 2011

By SSG Mylinda DuRousseau

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. (June 10, 2011) "The blast of howitzer fire from the salute battery nearby marked the official welcoming of Third Army to Shaw Air Force Base during an uncasing ceremony at the newly-completed Patton Hall here today.

Third Army Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, alongside Command Sgt. Maj. John D. Fourhman, unfurled the Third Army colors formally marking Third Army’s command presence and symbolizing the start of operations in South Carolina.

After welcoming everyone and thanking them for attending, Lt. Gen. Brooks spoke about Third Army‘s future here.

“I am excited about the opportunities that are ahead of us to bring the concept of ‘joint interdependence’ to a new level of reality,” Lt. Gen. Brooks said. “This is what the Base Realignment and Closure law of 2005 had in mind and it is also what has today become a real opportunity for us to demonstrate.”

Today’s uncasing ceremony was preceded by a casing ceremony that took place June 3 at Fort McPherson, Ga. The tradition and symbolism of the casing and uncasing of a unit’s colors began in the earliest of times when a banner or other symbol was used to identify specific units and to serve as a rallying point for troops. Carrying the U.S. Colors and the regimental colors in combat and during unit formations was a place of high honor.

Today, the colors, with battle streamers attached, join their units in formation during ceremonies to signify their history in past campaigns and the presence of the commander and his headquarters. When a unit or the headquarters of a unit undergoes a permanent change of station, the colors are “cased”, meaning furled and placed inside a canvas case, to signify that the command has ceased operations at that location. The colors are then “uncased” at the new location to signify that the command is operational at its new station.

Third Army is in the process of completing a seamless transition from Fort McPherson, Ga., to Shaw AFB with no interruption to ongoing operations or support to warfighters in the U.S. Central Command area of operations.

During the ceremony Lt. Gen. Brooks spoke about bringing the same teamwork our Armed Forces use in theater to our operations here.

“I believe the opportunity is simply this: to exemplify this same level of teamwork over here, at Shaw, where we live and work together, as we have achieved over there, in theater, where we are fighting together.”

From its new $100 million headquarters at Shaw AFB, Third Army supports the warfighters of Operations New Dawn and Enduring Freedom. There are more than 36,000 forces assigned or attached to Third Army in support of more than 130,000 warfighters throughout the Middle East and South West Asia regions. At any one time Third Army has forces in 12 of the 20 countries in their area of responsibility.

Third Army is also the Army’s longest continuously deployed warfighting headquarters with operations in five locations to include its Main Command Post-Shaw AFB, Operational Command Post in Kuwait, Army Central Coordination Support Element-Iraq, ARCENT Coordination Support Element-Afghanistan and the trail party in Atlanta.

As the ceremony came to a close, Lt. Gen. Brooks thanked the Shaw and Sumter communities for the overwhelming support and hospitality they have shown Third Army throughout their transition from Fort McPherson to Shaw AFB and acknowledged that Third Army is not just here as a part of Shaw, but as a part of the community as well.

“Expect us to be great neighbors. We will shop in the same stores, we will live on the same streets, attend the same houses of worship, cheer the same teams,” Lt. Gen. Brooks said. “I am certain many will retire here and continue to be contributors as a part of the community. We will also work together for the prosperity of the region even while we do our military mission here and abroad.”

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