V Corps cases colors -- perhaps for last time in Germany

Soldiers of V Corps march out of the Wiesbaden Army Airfield fitness center following a casing of the colors ceremony for the corps on Thursday. The corps is headed for an Afghanistan deployment and is leaving Germany for good after more than 60 years.


By MARK PATTON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 10, 2012

WIESBADEN, Germany — V Corps cased its colors Thursday, likely for the last time in Germany.

In February, defense officials announced that V Corps would be inactivated after its pending yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.

That was just a month after U.S. Army Europe commander Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling said V Corps was “like a Phoenix” rising from the ashes, referring to a decision to maintain the Army’s only permanently forward-deployed corps, which had been slated for inactivation in 2009.

V Corps’ commander, Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, told reporters before Thursday’s ceremony that following the Corps’ deployment, it’s his understanding “V Corps will be inactivated.”

U.S. soldiers assigned to V Corps will deploy to Afghanistan over the next four to six weeks, where they’ll oversee coalition operations nationwide, leading the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, or IJC.

“During our year, Afghan Security Forces will fully move into the lead and NATO forces will conduct the most challenging logistical retrograde since World War II,” Terry said during the ceremony.

Terry will not only serve as commander of IJC, but also as deputy commander of United States Forces Afghanistan. Terry said 400 to 430 V Corps troops will serve in the 900-soldier coalition command, while the other V Corps soldiers will work in U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

Currently, about 750 soldiers and 1,250 family members constitute the Wiesbaden-based V Corps. Although the colors most likely won’t return to German soil, V Corps troops will return to Wiesbaden to out-process, reintegrate, reunite with family and take block leave before heading to their next assignments.

Formed in 1918, V Corps was nicknamed “Victory Corps” for its rapid advance in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive during World War I. In early 1942, Victory Corps troops deployed to Ireland after the U.S. declared war on Germany, the first American soldiers deployed to Europe in World War II, according to the V Corps website. In 1944, V Corps was at Normandy and later fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

V Corps has maintained its presence in Germany since 1951, where it defended the Fulda Gap during the Cold War. V Corps elements also served around the world, in places such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Kuwait and Iraq.

“The next chapter of Victory Corps’ history remains unwritten, but its authors are in this formation,” Terry told his troops at Thursday’s ceremony.

Terry noted that V Corps has faced inactivation before. Following World War II, Victory Corps returned to Fort Bragg, N.C., where it was inactivated for a period before V Corps’ return in 1951.

“Whenever the nation calls, and it’s gonna call again sometime down the road, V Corps’ colors will come out and wave proudly again,” Terry said.


The V Corps color guard brings up the unit's colors and the German and American flags at the casing of the colors ceremony at Wiesbaden Army Airfield, Germany, on Thursday.

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