Army unit at Fort Lee packs up ahead of disbanding
FORT LEE - Each week soldiers work on the process of disbanding the 49th Quartermaster Group - cataloging equipment, preparing it to be shipped and then shipping it out.
"There's more than 400 pieces on our property books," said Sgt. Togamau Tuia, supply sergeant for the 49th Group's Headquarters and Headquarters Company.
In late July, Fort Lee announced that the 49th Quartermaster Group would be inactivating.
The 49th Quartermaster Group has called Fort Lee home since 1993 when it was reactivated on post. The unit's lineage can be traced back to the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 49th Quartermaster Regiment, a segregated truck unit that served through World War II before being deactivated in Italy on Nov. 15, 1947.
At its operational height, the 49th had as many as 1,300 soldiers attached to it with two battalions.
The inactivation is part of the Army's overall strategy in realigning units.
Lt. Jeremy Pfistner, commander of the HHC, said that Thursday the unit was working on loading empty supply containers for the Supply Support Activity. The Supply Support Activity he explained is where units turn equipment in after a deployment or where soldiers pick up equipment before a deployment or training mission.
"We really started this work back in November," Pfistner said. But he added that in March work began in earnest to pack up the unit.
"We've got a few hundred pieces left," he said as a piece of equipment worked on moving storage containers. "It's bittersweet. I came over as the [executive officer] two years ago, and seeing all the people and equipment leaving is kind of sad. But we're all moving forward."
The 49th Group is home to the units on Fort Lee that deploy most often, including the 11th Quartermaster Company, one of only two active-duty mortuary affairs units in the Army. The unit also provides key services including shower and laundry and petroleum supply and bulk storage.
The 49th Quartermaster Group is set to become inactive in September.
"With an inactivation you have two key concerns: personnel and equipment," Lt. Col. Donald Weyler said in a press release. He added that the unit has been working closely with Army Forces Command and the 49th Group's parent unit, the 28th Airborne Corps, to give direction on what is to be done with the unit's equipment. Additionally, the 49th Group has been working closely with Human Resources Command to make sure solders get assignment instructions and orders well before inactivation.
Initially, inactivation is set for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 109th Quartermaster Company and the 16th Quartermaster Company sometime in August, well ahead of their official inactivation dates in September. The 49th Quartermaster Group's headquarters element's ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 14 and it will officially cease to exist Oct. 15.
After the inactivation ceremonies, soldiers assigned to the inactivated units will be reassigned to other former 49th units still remaining at Fort Lee, according to a press release from the Army base.
From an equipment standpoint, the deactivating units have already moved hundreds of tons and millions of dollars worth of vehicles, weapons and supplies. One motor pool, located at the corner of A and Mahone avenues, is half empty, and soldiers are busy moving a plethora of other equipment from several other facilities.
"We've already sent out a lot of LMTVs," said Tuia, describing how the unit has shipped off to other posts everything from computer systems to the Light Medium Tactical Vehicles, a type of truck used by the military. "It's been a good learning experience."
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 530th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and 108th Quartermaster Company will remain after the 49th's inactivation, but are scheduled to inactivate next year, Lt. Col. Donald Weyler said in a press release.
The 54th and 111th quartermaster companies - the only active-duty mortuary affairs units in the active Army - will also remain at Fort Lee, but "there are plans to move them" within 15 months. Weyler didn't specify where they might relocate, but said "the intent is to re-station them to a FORSCOM installation under a CSSB [Combat Sustainment Support Battalion] or sustainment brigade structure."
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