The 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, cased its colors Thursday in a formal ceremony on Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field.
As one 3rd Infantry Division unit — the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment— prepares to come home from Afghanistan, consequently, another prepares to deploy.
“We’re going to primarily be operating in Regional Command-North,” battalion commander Lt. Col. Todd Kelly said. “We’ll be part of a special-operations task force, and many of our soldiers will be working with special-forces teams. That means we’ll also have troops in Southern Afghanistan.”
Kelly said the unit’s 600-plus soldiers will focus on government-sustainment security and helping to establish a stable economic structure that aids the Afghan people. The lieutenant colonel said his soldiers will be keenly aware of their surroundings at all times.
“We’ll be making sure our soldiers trust but verify,” he said. “We’re very aware of cultural issues that have dogged our mission there recently.”
Kelly said his soldiers are enthusiastic about the unit’s first deployment to Afghanistan, noting it starts a new chapter for a unit with battle streamers going back 200 years. The unit got its nickname, Cottonbalers, during the 1814 Battle of New Orleans.
Command Sgt. Major Cedric Burns assisted his commander in rolling up the unit’s colors and tucking them inside a canvas case. The colors will be uncased downrange in about two weeks.
Acting 1st ABCT commander Lt. Col. Dennis Denius told soldiers and family members present for casing ceremony that the Cottonbalers have served in more battles than any other unit in the Army’s long history. He said the unit has seen “continuous service” since 1808. In recent years, the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment deployed to Iraq four times.
Both Denius and Kelly thanked family members and readiness groups for their support and sacrifices during the repeated deployments.
“The soldiers standing before you today are true professionals,” Kelly said. “Their spirit is invincible. As I look across this field, I see American heroes.”