Check Out This Fort Knox Ceremony That Nearly Every Soldier Goes Through Before Going To Afghanistan

Ft Know ceremony

jlilyea via flickr

Jonn Lilyea, retired platoon sergeant and no-holds-barred military blogger, is contributing to BI Military & defence’s new section The Smoke Pit — where authentic military voices tell it like it is, and active-duty troops dish on what matters most to them. ~ E. Lee & R. JohnsonOne of our readers at This Ain’t Hell (TAH), the blog where I’m based, is a member of the Army’s 3rd ESC (Expeditionary Sustainment Command) which has been around since the Korean war.

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They just deployed to Afghanistan where their main mission is making sure warfighters get what they need anytime, anywhere — ammo, fuel, food, you name it. It’s one of the few jobs where women really are on the frontlines.

The unit’s Public Affairs officer says their other mission is to oversee the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment to meet the 2014 deadline.

It’s a support unit, so no one is really interested in what they do — it’s not sexy like an infantry unit.

But being responsible for everything that comes into theatre deserves recognition. 

And that’s why one of TAH’s co-bloggers has joined the 3rd ESC as an embedded reporter. So expect some first-hand dispatches from the war zone.

We were invited to their Casing of the colours Ceremony at Fort Knox, Kentucky, last week as they prepared to deploy to Afghanistan. 

colours mean the Stars & Stripes, along with flags representing the unit and the Army, or whichever service the troops belong to. The historic colours are carried with their unit at all times.

As one unit deploys, another will replace them stateside, so this ceremony marked the casing (for deployment) and uncasing (for replacement) of their respective flags

Commander Colonel Kristin K. French and her Command Sergeant Major Karl A. Roberts, Jr. start rolling up the colours that will travel to Afghanistan

The colours will fly again when the unit lands overseas

LTC Robbin C. Higgins, commander of the Rear Detachment, along with her First Sergeant, Shawn T. Whitehead now uncase her unit's colours — they'll take over at Fort Knox as the others deploy

The newly uncased colours on Brooks Field

This is a colour guard, always flanked by soldiers carrying rifles or swords

The 3rd ESC will be responsible for more than 4,000 Troops and 10,000 contractors

BONUS: 50 of the soldiers went ahead to Afghanistan as an advanced party just before their unit cased the colours on Brooks Field. Soldiers and their families were tightly focused on one thing – saying goodbye

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