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Fort Campbell, KY – The 2nd Brigade Combat Teamheld a change of command ceremony On Monday July 22nd, to honor the outgoing battalion commander, Col. Daniel R. Walrath, and to recognize the incoming Commander Col. Pete Benchoff before the entire Brigade.
Colonel Benchoff has had several previous assignments at Fort Campbell including a stint in 2009 as the commander of the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and as the Assistant Chief of Staff for 101st Airborne Division.
A short ceremony was held shortly before the change of command to honor Col. Daniel R. Walrath, the outgoing commander of the 2nd brigade combat team; and his wife Christine.
During the ceremony Col. Walrath was awarded the Legion of Merit, and the Distinguished Member of the Regiment Pin for the 502nd Infantry Regiment by Brig. Gen. Mark R. Stammer, the acting commander of Fort Campbell, KY, while the 101st Airborne Division is deployed to Afghanistan.
Change of Command
2nd Brigade Combat Team Command and Staff
The History of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team
The 2nd Brigade can trace its proud heritage to Headquarters, 159th Infantry Brigade, an element of the 80th Division in August 1917. During World War I, the unit distinguished itself with campaign participation credit in the Somme, Meuse-Argonne and Picardy Campaigns. The unit returned to the United States in May 1919 and was inactivated at Camp Lee on June 26, 1919.
The 502nd, or “five-oh-deuce”, was activated July 1st, 1941 as a parachute infantry battalion. In August 1942 the 502nd joined the 101st Airborne Division and became the division’s first organic parachute infantry regiment. The brigade entered combat in World War II on June 6th, 1944, by jumping into Normandy. In addition to the Normandy Campaign, the brigade participated in Operation Market-Garden, the Battle of the Bulge and the defense of Bastogne. By May, 1945, the 502nd had emerged as one of the most decorated units of the Second World War.
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team deployed to the Republic of Viet Nam in December 1967 and participated in twelve major campaigns. In the late summer of 1990, the “STRIKE” Brigade moved to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield to deter a possible Iraqi invasion. On February 25th, 1991 the “STRIKE” Brigade participated in the largest helicopter air assault in military history to establish FOB Cobra.
During Operation Desert Storm, the 2nd Brigade and 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) cut the enemy’s lines of communications, struck deep into his country, threatened a lethal strike against his capital and shut off his escape. The Brigade redeployed to Fort Campbell in March of 1991.
2nd Brigade built a regional police force that became the model for the rest of the country to follow. It created the conditions whereby former Iraqi military personnel got paid and where the new Iraqi Dinar was introduced without incident. Above all, the Brigade fostered a secure environment that allowed the citizens of Mosul to live in a free and safe city that became a beacon of hope throughout Iraq. The “STRIKE” Brigade then re-deployed back to Fort Campbell and began transforming from an Infantry Brigade to a modular Brigade Combat Team introducing the 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment; 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment; 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion; and the 526th Brigade Support Battalion to complement the 1st Battalion and 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment.
The new and improved 2nd Brigade Combat Team deployed in September 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 2 BCT was assigned to an operational area south of Baghdad in arguably the most difficult area of operations in Iraq, supporting the strategic goal of stabilizing Baghdad. This area, due to the intensity of the insurgency, was labeled as the “Triangle of Death.” The brigade rapidly initiated combat and counter-insurgency operations in this area to neutralize anti-Iraqi forces, develop Iraqi security force capabilities, secure key terrain, and improve government and economic development. In turn, the “STRIKE” Brigade established and fostered relationships with Iraqi Army leaders, local Sheiks, mayors, and city council members. The unit fought selflessly, disrupting enemy activities and denying terrorist safe-havens. The Brigade returned to Fort Campbell in late September 2006.
In October 2007, the “STRIKE” Brigade deployed for its 3rd time to Iraq, this time assigned to the “heart” of Iraq as part of Multi-National Division–Baghdad. The Brigade Combat Team was the main effort for the division and rapidly partnered with Iraqi Security and government officials to protect the population and disrupt enemy activity. The brigade left its mark in Iraq during OIF 07-09 by greatly reducing violence, denying Al-Qaida and special-group criminals safe haven and improving the economy and essential services. The Brigade completed its 3rd deployment to Iraq and returned to Fort Campbell to re-fit and prepare for its next “Rendezvous with Destiny”.
On December 22nd, 2009, the “STRIKE” Brigade received orders to spearhead the new surge of forces into the southern region of Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit has prepared its Soldiers and Leaders for today’s operations in the Kandahar Province. With complex training received at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Combined Arms Live Fire Exercises, and extensive Dari and Pashto language and culture training, the “STRIKE” Brigade entered Kandahar in May 2010 mission ready. And now, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team works shoulder to shoulder, “Shonna Ba Shonna”, with the forces of the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police and the Afghan Government to ensure the safety and protection of the people of Afghanistan from Taliban tyranny.
In January 2012, the “STRIKE” Brigade received a FORSCOM Execution Order to deploy 38 Security Force Advisor Teams to Regional Command-East Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to begin their mission as “the new tip of the spear” for transition to GIRoA control. . 366 of the 3450 assigned STRIKE Soldiers and Leaders, known as “Team STRIKE,” were selected to execute unique Afghan specific training for this new mission paving the way for the transition of control of Kunar, Nangahar, Laghman, Logar, and Paktiya to GIRoA ANSF. The Brigade prepared its Soldiers and Leaders for the unique assigned mission through complex partnered training at the Joint Readiness Training Center. Additionally, TM STRIKE’s advisor teams participated in CALFEXs, Foreign Weapons Training, and Afghanistan’s Culture language training. In May 2012, Team STRIKE deployed in Support of the advisor team mission while Campbell STRIKE; (the remaining 3,084 Soldiers) remained at Fort Campbell to conduct intensive training focused at the squad and platoon level. Campbell STRIKE remains committed to provide first class support to our 28 advisor teams while we increase capability in preparation for our next “Rendezvous with Destiny”.
This Regiment will defend the freedom of those oppressed, just as it has done since its founding.
“I am a STRIKE Soldier; I fight where told, and win where I fight!”
About Col.Daniel R. Walrath
Colonel Daniel R. Walrath was commissioned a lieutenant of Infantry following graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1988.
In March of 1989, Col.Walrath was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 504th Par-achute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, NC. There he served as a Rifle Platoon Leader and Anti-Armor Company Executive Officer and participat-ed in Operation JUST CAUSE in Panama and Operations DESERT SHIELD/STORM in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. He was then assigned to 3d Battalion, 75th Ranger Regi-ment at Fort Benning, GA, where he served as a Ranger Rifle Platoon Leader.
Following graduation from the Infantry Officer Advanced Course and Bradley Leader Course in 1993, Col.Walrath was then assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry (Mechanized) in the Republic of Korea where he was the Commander of Delta Company. In 1994 he moved to 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield, GA, where he served as a battalion staff officer, the Commander of Bravo Company, and participated in Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY in Haiti.
From June 2005 to June 2007, Col.Walrath served as the Commander of 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment (Mechanized) of the 1st Armored Division in Baumholder, Germany to include participation in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM 05-07. From June 2007 to April 2008, Col.Walrath served as a task force senior observer controller at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany. Col.Walrath then served as the Commander for 3rd Battalion, 75th Rang-er Regiment from May 2008, to July 2010, to include three deployments in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM. He arrived at Fort Campbell after completing the Naval War College in Newport, RI.
He wears the Ranger tab, Master Parachutist badge with bronze star, Combat Infantryman’s badge with star, Expert Infantryman’s badge, Pathfinder badge, and Air Assault badge.
Col.Walrath is married to the former Christine Nicdao of Pensacola, FL. They have three children: Jacob, Isabella, and Gabrielle.
About Col. Peter N. Benchoff
Colonel Peter N. Benchoff was commissioned a lieutenant of Infantry following graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1993.
COL Benchoff’s initial assignment was with the 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC. From May 1994 to September 1996, he served as a Rifle Platoon Leader, Scout Platoon Leader and Aide de Camp to the Assistant Division Commander for Operations. In April 1998, COL Benchoff was assigned to 1-14 IN (Light) at Schofield Barracks, HI, where he served as the Battalion Assistant Operations Officer, Battalion Operations Officer and concluded his assignment as the Commander of Bravo Company.
Following his assignment to Schofield Barracks, COL Benchoff was reassigned to 2d Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Lewis, WA. While assigned to 2d Ranger Battalion from October 2000 to July 2003, COL Benchoff served as the Battalion Air Operations Officer, Assistant Battalion Operations Officer (Operation Enduring Freedom –Afghanistan) and as the Commander of Alpha Company (Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan).
In July 2004, COL Benchoff was assigned to the Southern European Task Force (Airborne) in Vicenza, Italy, where he served as the Executive Officer to the Commanding General (Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan). He was reassigned to the 173d Airborne Brigade where he served until his reassignment to Fort Campbell, KY. While in the 173d ABCT , COL Benchoff served as the Battalion Operations Officer in 1-508 IN (ABN) (Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan), the Battalion Executive Officer for 1-503 IN (ABN), the Battalion Operations Officer for 1-503 IN (ABN) (Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan), and as the Executive Officer for 173d ABCT (Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan).
COL Benchoff ‘s most recent assignment was with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, KY, where he served and deployed to Afghanistan as the Assistant Chief of Staff, Operations (G-3/5/7).
He wears the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Master Parachutist Badge with bronze service star, Air Assault Badge, Pathfinder Badge, and Ranger Tab.
COL Benchoff is married to Dr. Theresa Benchoff, M.D. They have three sons: Jonathan, Philip, and Alexander.
Topics101st Airborne Division, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 502nd Infantry Regiment, Afghanistan, Arie Richards, Arthur G. Brong, Brandon S. Haywood, Brian L. Meisner, Christine Walrath, Clinton W. Cox, Dan Walrath, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Distinguished Member of Regiment, Gearld Roberson, Glenn A. Louk, Iraq, James A. Ackerman, Joshua P. Trigo, Kurt Thompson, Legion of Merit, Mark B. Sherkey, Mark Stammer, Mufuatu Taiwo, Neil N. Snyder IV, Pete Benchoff, Richard Black, Robert C. Connell, Strike, Theresa Benchoff, Timothy R. McDonald, Timothy Rose, U.S. Army, vietnam, William J. Slocum, WWI, WWII
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