MP Corps anniversary ball emphasizes strength

by Sgt. Adrienne Killingsworth
18th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs

MANNHEIM, Germany — More than 850 military police Soldiers, family members and friends from throughout Europe came together Sept. 25 at the Village Pavilion on Patrick Henry Village in Heidelberg, Germany, to celebrate the 69th anniversary of the Military Police Corps Regiment.

For the second consecutive year, the MP Corps Ball in Europe was hosted by the 18th Military Police Brigade here. Col. Thomas Evans, the commander of the 18th MP Bde., presided over the event, and retired Col. Ted Spain, the commander of the 18th MP Bde. from August 2002 to July 2004 during the invasion of Iraq, was the guest speaker for the night.

Colonel Evans said Colonel Spain’s influence on the regiment continues today.
“You could say Colonel Spain is significantly responsible for the current senior leadership of our regiment,” Colonel Evans said, noting the seven seated or former military police brigade commanders and 15 military police battalion commanders who have served under Colonel Spain’s guidance.

Colonel Spain brought with him a pride in the legacy of the MP Corps that was an integral part of this year’s theme: “The Army’s Triple Strand of Strength” — a motto meant to highlight the three military occupational specialties within the MP Corps: law enforcement, corrections and criminal investigation.

The punch bowl ceremony, or “grog” as it is commonly known, emphasized the night’s theme by including history from every unit represented at the ball and the unit’s contributions to the regiment and the Army.

The pride of the MP Corps could be seen throughout the night’s ceremonies and in the speeches given during the ball.

When Colonel Spain was introduced by Colonel Evans as the guest speaker for the night, many in the crowd already knew they were going to get a rousing speech. Colonel Spain had already made a strong impression on many of the 18th MP Bde.’s Soldiers before the night of the ball.

While Colonel Spain was in Germany for the week leading up to the ball, he took the time to travel to the 95th Military Police Battalion here and the 709th Military Police Battalion in Grafenwöhr, Germany, to speak to their non-commissioned officers and officers about leadership.

During those conferences with the NCOs and officers, Colonel Spain spoke with great pride about the Soldiers he’d led and the Soldiers he sees in the MP Corps today. Colonel Spain’s speech at the ball continued on that theme.

“Be proud to be an MP, be proud of what you are doing,” he said to the audience at the ball. “You are the present and the future of the corps.

“My father was a World War II veteran, and he was the greatest man I ever knew — and that was a great generation,” Colonel Spain said, “but you are equal to that generation.

“You are combat hardened,” he continued. “We have the strongest bench we’ve ever had in our Army.”

Colonel Spain went on to acknowledge and admire the sacrifices he has witnessed among the MP Corps and the strength that he has seen in its Soldiers. He specifically made mention of the troops he led during the invasion of Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom 1 in 2003 and what their sacrifices and strengths meant to him.

“Many of the Soldiers I pinned Purple Hearts on would say they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Colonel Spain said, “and anytime any one of them would say that, I would correct them. I’d say, ‘You were in the right place at the wrong time and you were doing exactly what your nation was asking you to do — and you’re a hero.’”

Colonel Evans paralleled those thoughts when he told the crowd what the
purpose of the night’s festivities were and why the MP Corps can be so proud of its Soldiers.

“Tonight we reflect on the many sacrifices and accomplishments of our regiment,” Colonel Evans said. “In garrison and at war, we live our motto every day —
‘Of the troops and for the troops.’”

Not to be forgotten in the formula for what makes the MP Corps as strong as it is, spouses and family members were recognized for the contributions they make to keep their military police Soldiers and the Army strong.

Colonel Evans said that standing alongside every military police Soldier are thousands of family members and loved ones who make sacrifices as well for this great regiment.

“It’s because of them and their Soldiers that we remain the force of choice,” he said.

Though the MP Corps was established on Sept. 26, 1941, military police Soldiers can trace their history all the way back to the Revolutionary War and the “troops of Marechaussee,” who were established as the provost for the Continental Army to apprehend deserters, rioters and stragglers, and who, in battle, were posted in the rear to secure fugitives.