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Patriot Brigade unfurls, welcomes new commander

July 21, 2011

By Capt Antonia Greene

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- In a formal ceremony on Sharp Field, the 174th Infantry Brigade, along with its First Army higher headquarters and Joint Base mission partners, gathered to unfurl the brigade colors and welcome a new commander July 19.

Before the official program began, Soldiers of the 174th Infantry Brigade alongside Lt. Gen. J. Mick Bednarek, First Army commanding general, huddled around the Ultimate Weapon statue on Sharp Field. They bid farewell to Col. Chipper M. Lewis, outgoing commander of the 174th Infantry Brigade and his wife Daisy. Bednarek recognized both Lewis and Daisy for their distinguished service and dedication to the Army. Lewis is scheduled to retire from active duty Aug. 1.

“Your success is mostly dependent on those around you, and it’s clearly present here,” said Lewis, about the Soldiers. “There’s one thing that is constant in the Army -- change -- and today marks a transition in many ways.”

As one great warrior moves on, many more find a home. The 174th Infantry Brigade began its re-stationing from Fort Drum, N.Y., to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in August 2010; however, the unit waited to uncase its brigade colors until all eight battalions, along with Soldiers, family members, and Army civilians had completed the transfer.

More than 1,000 Soldiers now call the joint base home again. The 174th Infantry Brigade was originally organized Aug. 25, 1917 at Camp Dix, N.J. Over the organization’s distinguished lineage it participated in many campaigns and saw significant combat action in World War II, including the Battle of the Bulge and the fall of Neuendorf.

The 174th is no stranger to supporting the enduring mobilization training mission at Dix. During the summer of 2007, the brigade was mobilized to Fort Dix for training along with the 72nd Field Artillery Brigade, supporting the summer surge of troops. Soldiers of the 174th Infantry Brigade trained National Guard and Reserve component Soldiers in land navigation, area security, urban operations, marksmanship, and live fire exercises. Today the brigade trains not only Soldiers but multi-component service members, including Airman, Sailors and Coast Guardsman, in continued support of ongoing contingency operations. The brigade is host of First Army Division East’s premier training platform. Enduring Mobilization Training Center Dix is the busiest First Army Division East deployment station, mobilizing, training and redeploying more Joint Source Training Oversight classes and Army unit rotations than any other platform.

As the eight battalions unfurled their unit colors on Sharp Field, with the respective commanders and command sergeants major performing the honors, the flags signified the formal move and completion of a year-long transformation. Each battalion and the brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, with a representative formation of about 30 Soldiers each, stood tall and strong as the brigade hailed its new commander.

Lewis, a 28-year combat veteran planning to retire and reside in Peachtree City, Ga., relinquished command of the 174th Infantry Brigade to Col. Craig A. Osborne, returning from deployment in Kabul, Afghanistan. He served as the chief of staff for Combined, Joint, and Interagency Task Force 435 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Maj. Gen. Kevin R. Wendel, First Army Division East commanding general, officiated the ceremony and recognized the contributions of Lewis and the Soldiers of the Patriot brigade and welcomed Osborne and his family.

“The Patriots have impacted more than 15,000 service members, including nearly 3,000 Airmen and more than 3,000 Sailors, during Lewis’ two-year tenure,” said Wendel. “And today, I couldn’t think of a better leader to take the reins at the 174th -- Craig and Lois -- welcome to the team.”

Osborne, with more than 22 years as a commissioned infantry officer, welcomed the opportunity to command the brigade and thanked his family, friends, and mentors. First and foremost, he thanked the Soldiers who stood before him on the parade field.

“The Soldiers in this brigade -- like all other brigades -- are what make our unit successful. They are the brigade,” said Osborne. “They represent the very best not only in our Army, but the very best our nation has to offer.”

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