Support our mission
This is a photo for the gallery

This is a photo for the gallery (Gallery Guy)

This is a photo for the gallery

This is a photo for the gallery (Gallery Guy)

Task Force 2-72 commander Lt. Col. John L. Salvetti, left, and 2-72 Command Sgt. Maj. James Daniels case the unit colors Thursday at Camp Casey, South Korea.

Task Force 2-72 commander Lt. Col. John L. Salvetti, left, and 2-72 Command Sgt. Maj. James Daniels case the unit colors Thursday at Camp Casey, South Korea. (Seth Robson / S&S)

CAMP CASEY, South Korea — More than six decades of history, including combat in World War II and the Korean War, ended here Thursday with the casing of the Task Force 2nd Battalion, 72nd Armored Regiment colors.

First Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division commander Col. Michael W. Feil told soldiers gathered for the inactivation ceremony that Camp Casey was the ideal place to wrap up the unit’s history.

“Sixty-two years after the battalion was first activated and 61 years after the colors first experienced the sting of battle, I can think of no better venue for this ceremony than here, where the colors have flown for the longest time in the Republic of Korea,” Feil said.

Feil said that last summer nobody would have predicted what the 2-72 “Dragon Force” was to experience between then and now. In that short period of time, the unit went from being the leading armored force on the peninsula to inactivation, he said.

Lt. Col. John L. Salvetti, the commander, likened the inactivation to his grandmother’s death.

“When my grandmother passed away I was 10 years old. The whole family was present at the wake and everyone was in a good mood,” he said. “My mother told me, ‘Today we celebrate family and your grandmother’s long and fulfilling life.’”

“Back in February, when we were told about the inactivation, we said a collective ‘Ah, shoot.’ There was an initial feeling of sadness, but we know we are part of a bigger entity,” he said. “Even with us going away it makes the Army stronger. We have devoted this time as a continuous wake and not a funeral.”

Salvetti, in a ceremony Friday, will take command of Task Force 1st Battalion, 72nd Armored Regiment.

He said that as recently as February, there would have been 936 soldiers in his formation. On Thursday, only 202 remained.

Early last year, two of his tank companies were shifted to 2nd ID’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team (Strike Force) and sent to Iraq last summer. In exchange, he received a pair of infantry companies from 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment.

At that time, leaders didn’t know they would be forming a Unit of Execution this summer and that only two of the 2nd Infantry Division’s three combat battalions would remain on the peninsula, he said.

Most of the remaining unit soldiers are headed back to the United States this weekend, he said.

Capt. Brian Schoellhorn, 32, of Columbia, Ill., who commanded 2-72’s Company C and Headquarters Headquarters Company during a 30-month tour, said he is headed to the University of Wisconsin to study history.

“It is a very sad day to see those colors furled,” he said.

Schoellhorn’s most enduring memory of the unit is participating in a wire obstacle breach operation with South Korean army units that involved artillery, smoke, plow tanks, engineers and infantry, he said.

author picture
Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.
twitter Email

Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up