Schweinfurt, Germany’s Task Force Guardian deactivates
January 8, 2008
SCHWEINFURT, Germany — The members of Task Force Guardian assembled one final time Monday as their colors were cased at Finney Fitness Facility on Conn Barracks.
Members of the task force for two years, the unit’s 80-member cadre was responsible for holding down the fort while 4,000-plus soldiers in 2nd Dagger Brigade Combat Team were planning, training and deployed to Iraq.
In addition to the thousands of deployed troops, the unit was responsible for helping and informing the some 3,000 family members in the Schweinfurt community whose loved ones were far away.
“We wanted it to be more than what we’d seen in the past,” the task force commander, Lt. Col. Robert Whittle, said, speaking of the vision that he and the brigade commander, Col. J.B. Burton, had for TF Guardian.
What Whittle and Burton ended up with was more than they ever expected.
Faced with daunting tasks such as visiting wounded comrades in the hospital, notifying family members that their soldiers were hurt or killed and informing and educating the thousands of concerned loved ones, Whittle said his soldiers performed above and beyond the call of duty.
“(These soldiers) had the wherewithal to withstand the challenges of supporting … (a unit) 4,000 miles away,” Burton said during Monday’s ceremony. “(Task Force Guardian) embodies the ideals and characteristics that the Dagger Brigade Combat Team has come to be known for.”
Officers and enlisted alike gave of their free time to fill roles as baseball coaches, Boy Scout troop leaders and youth program directors — even though their numbers were less than 2 percent of the brigade’s formation.
“We made sure there were enough volunteers so the (post schools) never had to cancel a field trip,” Whittle said.
Soon on his way to Fort Riley, Kan., to take over an engineer battalion there, Whittle ended by telling his soldiers, “It was an honor to serve and serve with each and every one of you.”