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Fort Campbell’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team holds Change of Command

 

2nd Brigade Combat Team - StrikeFort Campbell KY - 101st Airborne DivisionFort 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.

Brig. Gen. Mark Stammer, the acting commander of Fort Campbell, KY, while the 101st Airborne Division is deployed to Afghanistan passes command of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team from Col. Walrath to their new Commander Col. Pete Benchoff

Brig. Gen. Mark Stammer, the acting commander of Fort Campbell, KY, while the 101st Airborne Division is deployed to Afghanistan passes command of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team from Col. Walrath to their new Commander Col. Pete Benchoff

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.

Photo Gallery

Ceremony

Change of Command

2nd Brigade Combat Team Command and Staff

Commander of Troops
LTC Kurt Thompson
Brigade Command Sergeant Major
CSM Brandon S. Haywood

Unit Commanders

1-502 IN
LTC Arie Richards
CSM Brian L. Meisner
1-320 FA
LTC Mark. B Sherkey
CSM James A. Ackerman
2-502 IN
LTC Mufutau Taiwo
CSM Timothy Rose
1-75 CAV
LTC Clinton W. Cox
CSM Richard Black
526 BSB
LTC Timothy R. McDonald
CSM Gerald Roberson
2BSTB
LTC Robert C. Connell
CSM Glenn A. Louk

Brigade Staff

S1
MAJ Arthur G. Brong
S2
MAJ Joshua P. Trigo
S3
MAJ Neil N. Snyder IV
S4
MAJ William J. Slocum

The History of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team

Command Sgt. Maj. Brandon Haywood, command sergeant major of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (left), and 101st Airborne Division Senior Acting Commander, Brig. Gen. Mark Stammer, add the coveted Gold Air Assault Excellence Streamer to the Apache Troop, 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) guidon during a special ceremony conducted at Strike Field. (Photo by Master Sgt. Pete Mayes, 101st Airborne Division Public Affairs Office)

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.

In February 2003, the brigade deployed to the Middle East with the remainder of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) for what became Operation Iraqi Freedom. It returned a year later having led the Division through the key battles of An Najaf, south Al Hillah, Karbala, southern Baghdad, Mahmoudiya and Mosul. 2nd Brigade completed the two longest air assaults in Division history. In Mosul, it was instrumental in forming the City Council by holding the first free elections in the country since the fall of the regime. Over the subsequent 9 months, the Brigade rebuilt the city’s hospitals, schools and water system.

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.

Pfc. Michael Jones and Pfc. Alexander Kornelakis, combat engineers with Company A, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), set up an anti-personnel obstacle breaching system during ‘Sapper Stakes’ at Fort Campbell, KY, Oct. 26th. Called ‘APOBS’, the system launches a line of explosive devices to trigger nearby hidden bombs to detonate. (U.S. Army Photo By Spc. Shawn Denham, PAO, 2nd BCT, 101st Abn. Div.)

Pfc. Michael Jones and Pfc. Alexander Kornelakis, combat engineers with Company A, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), set up an anti-personnel obstacle breaching system during ‘Sapper Stakes’ at Fort Campbell, KY, Oct. 26th. Called ‘APOBS’, the system launches a line of explosive devices to trigger nearby hidden bombs to detonate. (U.S. Army Photo By Spc. Shawn Denham, PAO, 2nd BCT, 101st Abn. Div.)

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 May of 2010, the “STRIKE” Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan as the main effort for Regional Command South. During the year long deployment in Southern Afghanistan, STRIKE defeated the Taliban in 4 critical districts Arghandab, Zharay, Maiwand, and Panjwa’i. Building over 29 Forward Operating , Combat Outposts, and Patrol Bases in Taliban contested areas, STRIKE Brigade partnered with the 3rd Brigade, 205th Corps Afghan National Army and built key governmental infrastructure including schools, roads, medical clinics, canals and irrigation that improved the quality of life of the Afghan people. Combined Task Force STRIKE extended governance in previously inaccessible terrain establishing District administration, health and edubasescational services, and providing the people of Kandahar Province a voice in their government. During the deployment Combined Task Force STRIKE included 17 American, NATO, and Afghan Battalions, and it effectively reduced violence along major civilian supply routes by attacking the insurgency deep in historic enemy-held terrain. Combined Task Force STRIKE employed innovative techniques to breach and bypass insurgent IED minefields with the use of MICLICs, APOBS, and TEDDs. STRIKE’s use of persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platforms prevented the reemergence of the Taliban in the critical terrain. The historic deployment of Combined Task Force STRIKE from May 2010 to June 2011 protected the population and denied the Taliban unfettered access to the people of Kandahar Province. The actions of Combined Task Force STRIKE have provided the Afghan people a choice to support the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the opportunity for peace and prosperity in the future.

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!”
“STRIKE!”

About Col.Daniel R. Walrath

Col. Walrath during his remarks

Col. Walrath during his remarks

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.

Following completion of Command and General Staff College at Fort Leav-enworth, KS, in 1999, Col.Walrath was then assigned to the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division at Fort Campbell, KY. There he served as the 3d Brigade S4 and the Operations Officer for 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry and participated in Operation JOINT GUARDIAN in Kosovo. In 2001, he returned to 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment where he served as the Battalion’s Executive Officer and participated in Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM. In 2003, Col.Walrath was then assigned to U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, FL, where he served in the Operations Directorate.

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

Col. Peter N. Benchoff

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).

In February 2009, COL Benchoff took command of 2d Battalion, 502d Infantry (Air Assault) of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, KY. While in command of the 2d Battalion, also known as the “Strike Force”, he led the battalion during combat operations in Zhari District, Kandahar, Province Afghanistan (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.


About Bill Larson

    Bill Larson

    Bill Larson is  is politically and socially active in the community. Bill is a member of the Friends of Dunbar Cave.

    You can reach him via telephone at 931-249-0043 or via the email address below.

    Email: blarson@clarksvilleonline.com

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