Special to the Register
The largest unit of the Kentucky National Guard now calls Richmond home.
The 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, the largest of the state’s five major support commands, moved its brigade headquarters Friday from Louisville to Richmond.
The move was formalized with an “uncasing ceremony” attended by local officials.
Brig. Gen. Scott Campbell joined Madison County Judge/Executive Kent Clark and Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes in overseeing the uncasing of the 149th MEB colors at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Richmond.
Campbell, who commanded the 149th on its last deployment to Iraq in 2011, said the ceremony would be the beginning of what he expects to be “a long and productive relationship” between the brigade, Richmond and Madison County.
“We are citizen-soldiers, and with that title, we enjoy a special relationship with our communities, and I expect that to be no different now,” said Campbell. “Madison County and Richmond have long been strong supporters of the National Guard and the military at large. You are now getting one of the most powerful brigade headquarters in the Army inventory.”
Col. John H. Edwards Jr., commander of the 149th MEB, said the uncasing was the pinnacle of a long road of preparation for the movement of the brigade. He expressed pride in the lineage of the 149th and the role it has played in U.S. military history. He reminded the soldiers that the brigade colors are about more than just them.
“The uncasing ceremony is about recognizing the name and what we stand for as a unit, together,” Edwards said. “We uncase those colors not just for us in this room, but those who fought before us. And my challenge to you as you walk out those doors is to remember you represent the 149th and its traditions; you will do it 110 percent.”
“Uncasing of the colors,” or unfurling of the flag, symbolizes the activation or, in this case, the relocation of a military unit.
The move takes place to improve the unit’s readiness as an organization as well as to better provide support to the commonwealth in response to disasters such as tornadoes and flooding.
Lt. Col. Jerry Morrison, deputy commander of the 149th MEB, said it is an positive move in the right direction with many benefits to the Kentucky Guard. The relocation is also part of a larger realignment of units in the commonwealth. Placing military police, engineers and chemical capabilities under the appropriate command allows the unit to function as a true maneuver enhancement brigade as designed by the Army.
“The units here today provide a complete maneuver enhancement brigade, over 2,600 soldiers strong, fully capable of meeting its federal and state mission,” Morrison said. “The city of Richmond and Madison County are now the proud owners of the largest Kentucky National Guard brigade headquarters.”
Mayor Jim Barnes welcomed the soldiers to Richmond, calling their service to the country the greatest honor for an individual.
“On behalf of the city of Richmond, I cannot begin to tell you how excited we are for you all to become part of our community,” he said. “It’s quite an honor when we as a growing community can say that we got the 149th Brigade.”
The 149th traces its roots back to the Kentucky Militia in 1839. In its 174-year history, soldiers of the brigade have served in battles of nearly every war the United States has fought. Today, it is made up of battalions from across the state, including Owensboro, Bowling Green, Louisville and Ashland, with company-level units in many more locations that are all now centered on Richmond.
“The 149th Brigade has a storied history, but we must continue to feel that the best days are ahead,” Campbell added. “With the successful transition from Louisville to Richmond, a 100-mile move with a large headquarters with a significant number of troops and equipment, the future is definitely bright for the 149th MEB and Richmond and Madison County.”