Since the return of the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 28th Transportation Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade Soldiers from a 15-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom last month, the unit has undergone a lot of changes. In addition to re-integrating its troops, the 28th Trans. Bn. has begun the process of deactivating.
The start of the unit’s transformation was initiated July 17 during a dual ceremony at the gymnasium on Coleman Barracks in Mannheim for an uncasing of the colors and a relinquishment of command ceremony.
The HHD began the ceremony by uncasing its colors after 15 months downrange, which was soon followed by Lt. Col. Chris Benoit, 28th Trans. Bn. commander, addressing his Soldiers, and reflecting on their tour together in Iraq as well as his tenure as commander for the battalion.
Colonel Benoit’s relinquishment of command was one of the first steps in the deactivation process.
Colonel Benoit’s time with the “En Temps” battalion was not limited to acting as commander; he also held the position of special projects officer and executive officer for the battalion, adding another 750 days to his overall time with the unit.
After thanking his unit for making his time in command so successful, Colonel Benoit gave a special thanks to the local nationals who worked hard with the Soldiers to keep the unit running smoothly and effectively.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our local national members of the battalion,” he said. “Truly, without them, the service this battalion provides would come to a screeching halt. They are the continuity, the historical knowledge and expertise in our operations.”
After Colonel Benoit said his thanks, it was time for him to be recognized for his years of service.
Col. Thomas Evans, 18th MP Bde. commander, spoke on Colonel Benoit’s behalf during the ceremony and said Colonel Benoit’s success was evident in the fact that his accomplishments as a leader would remain after he has gone.
“Leave knowing that you did what a commander must do; you leave this unit better than when you joined it, and that is the true measure of a commander,” Colonel Evans said.
As the battalion prepares to deactivate, its Soldiers and its missions make the transition to becoming a part of the brigade’s legacy and Army history, a fact that leaves Colonel Benoit with a unique distinction.
“Lieutenant Colonel Chris Benoit relinquishes command and has the distinction of being the last battalion commander of this unit,” Colonel Evans said.
Maj. Nicole Heumphreus will be acting as the transformation commander during the unit’s deactivation. The units that currently fall under the 28th Trans. Bn. will either be deactivated or re-flagged under new battalions within U.S. Army Europe. Some may also go back to stateside units, said Sgt. 1st Class Johnathan Trussel, human resources non-commissioned officer in charge, 18th MP Bde.
In his closing remarks, Colonel Benoit admitted how difficult it was to say goodbye after so many years.
“I was told every day in command would be tough,” he said, “but no one said the last day would be the toughest.”