Morgan’s Men case colors, depart for overseas mission

Story and photos by Sgt. Bryan Ploughe, 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery Unit Public Affairs Historian Representative

28 Jan 2013 (2)

Sgt. Maj. Robert Neathery and Lt. Col. Timothy Fanter case the 623d Battalion colors during a ceremony at Camp Shelby, Miss., Jan. 28, 2013. The unit finished their pre-mobilization training at the site and prepared for deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Sgt. Bryan Ploughe)

CAMP SHELBY, Miss. — On a sloping grassy area in Camp Shelby, Miss. the nearly 200 deploying members of the 1st Battalion, 623d Field Artillery gathered in formation, broken down by their perspective firing battery with the 623d battalion colors leading the front of the formation. The battalion commander, Lt. Col. Timothy Fanter, and Sgt. Maj. Robert Neathery, took to the front of the formation and began the official ceremony.

The casing of the colors is an Army tradition that symbolizes the movement of a unit to a new theater of operation. At a ceremony at Camp Shelby Miss. the tradition and legacy of the 1/623d was carried out once again as Morgan’s Men prepare to move to Jordan. Once the battalion officially replaces the unit that is there now, the colors will be uncovered to represent their area of operation.

“This casing ceremony is as symbolic as it is historic,” said Col. Brian Wertzler, Brigade Commander of the 138th Fires Brigade.  “The Colors of the 1/623rd  Battalion have been home in Kentucky for more than 20 years since their last deployment, always standing ready to protect the Nation that it proudly serves.”

“As the Colors are furled and covered, the professionalism and high morale of the Soldiers is indicative of the successes that 1/623rd FA Battalion will attain when the Colors are unfurled and fly proudly in Jordan.”

28 Jan 2013 (1)

Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery stand in formation during a color casing ceremony at Camp Shelby, Miss., Jan. 28, 2013. The colors of the battalion were cased until the unit arrives overseas for their scheduled nine-month deployment. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Sgt. Bryan Ploughe)

As the colors began to become encased, each firing battery that was represented followed suit simultaneously. After all colors had were encased, Fanter and Neathery spoke a little about the history of the battalion as well as hit upon the expectations of the Soldiers for this mission they were about to embark upon.

“To the best of our recent memory, this is only the third time that the battalion colors have gone forward to fly on foreign soil,” said Neathery.  “They include the Korean War, Desert Storm and now with Operation Enduring Freedom. Some of these Soldiers don’t realize it now, but they are making an impact of this battalion’s history because of this fact.”

To carry the battalion colors to foreign soil is a history making event. Although the firing battery guidons have gone forward in support many other times, for example in 2003 when the Unit mobilized and then again in 2005 when they deployed, this is only the third time for the battalion colors.

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