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1st BCT rolls up colors as 2nd BCT takes lead

10 Sep 2004 | Lance Cpl. Graham Paulsgrove

When they came, it was run down and neglected.  As they leave, a prosperous future is visible on the horizon.

After 12 months of firefights, humanitarian efforts and providing support for the 1st Marine Division, the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division is headed home to Fort Riley, Kansas, and is being replaced by 2nd BCT, 2nd ID.

In the past 12 months, the brigade has been responsible for the detention of over 2,000 enemy fighters, to include 18 high value targets and has sponsored over $23.8 billion dollars on civil projects in the Al Anbar province.

"When we got here, nothing was developed," said Col. Arthur W. Conner Jr., commanding officer, 1st BCT.  "The area had been largely neglected.  Now, shops are open, roads have been paved and the people are arguing about their government and how it should be run.  That is what democracy is all about."

"We have brought hope to people who had none," said Conner. 

While forward deployed, the soldiers were integrated at a battalion level with the 1st Marine Division.

"It was an honor to work with the highest decorated unit in the Military," said Conner.  "The integration was seamless and our mission never missed a beat."

First BCT transferred their authority to 2nd BCT during a Transfer of Authority ceremony at Camp Ramadi, Iraq.

"We brought a good team from Korea, and we have a tough mission ahead of us replacing a great BCT," said Sgt. Maj. Marvell R. Dean, command sergeant major, 2nd BCT. "We are here to help the Iraqi people have a democracy."

The mission carried out by the 1st BCT made headway for the people of Iraq, and the 2nd BCT has stepped up to the plate for their turn.

The 2nd BCT has been preparing for Operation Iraqi Freedom since June 2003 and is "definitely ready," according to Col. Gary Patton, commanding officer, 2nd BCT.

"We have an adaptive enemy but regardless, we are here to pave the way for a safe and free Iraq," said Patton.

To accomplish this task in Iraq, the 2nd BCT will fall under the 1st Marine Division, just like their predecessor.

"It will be a great honor and privilege to work side by side with Marines," said Patton.