With a roar, 77th Maintenance company is officially inactivated
Stars and Stripes August 5, 2006
BABENHAUSEN, Germany — A 2006 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe whisked away the 77th Maintenance Company’s guidon Friday, moments after the small flag was rolled up for the last time.
This quirky moment was the exclamation point at the end of the unit’s history. The guidon is bound for the National Archives in Washington.
The inactivation of the 77th leaves this nearly deserted post without a single active unit.
Though the order to call it quits wasn’t given until June, rumors of the inactivation had already spread through the ranks by April as the unit prepared to redeploy from its second Iraq tour. That forewarning hasn’t made it easier for Spc. Thomas Sawyer, 20, from Midland, Texas, to say goodbye to the unit.
“I’m about to lose some really great friends that I made,” he said.
The 77th is the only unit he has ever known, having been assigned to it straight out of training. A week after he signed in, he was told he was going to Baghdad.
During that deployment, the 77th completed some 4,500 work orders — 2,500 more than the unit it replaced.
Capt. Alex B. Hunt, a 29-year-old Houston native and commander of the unit, was quick to say that he himself never turned a wrench or filled out a requisition. The impressive record of the 77th was all the soldiers’ doing, he said.
“I’ve never seen anyone accomplish as much as they did with such limited resources,” Hunt said.
The unit earned a Meritorious Unit Citation for its first Iraq deployment. The citation was added to the guidon during the inactivation ceremony, just moments before the casing of the colors.
“It’s sort of sad because we’ve been together for a whole year, and now there’s not going to be anyone in the 77th,” said Spc. Rachel Lewis, 25, from Mars Hill, N.C. She spent her year in Iraq fixing radios, and after the ceremony, was on her way to pick up a set of orders moving her, she hoped, to Hanau.
“We made a good team together,” said company 1st Sgt. Vincent Jefferson, 43, from Houston. In his 21 years in the Army, Jefferson has never had to go through an inactivation. He said almost all of the unit’s equipment has been turned in, which means there’s little left to do except turn over the buildings and help move the soldiers out.
“They’re like my kids,” Jefferson said. “I wish we were all going to the same unit together.”
The inactivation might not be the last nail in the unit’s coffin. Inactivated units can be called back to service at any time.