August 28, 2008

Winchester-based infantry battalion changes command, awards streamers

By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

WINCHESTER, Va. — After recognizing the unit’s service in Iraq in Freedom Salutes at company level armories, the 3rd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team conducted a change of command ceremony Aug. 17 in Winchester. Prior to conducting the ceremonial exchange of the unit colors, senior leaders added battle and award streamers to the unit colors recognizing their combat service.

Lt. Col. William Zana, incoming commander for 3rd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team, adds a streamer to the unit colors. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The ceremony began with the promotion of William Zana, the incoming commander, from major to lieutenant colonel. After his promotion, Zana and the outgoing commander, Lt. Col. John Epperly, added streamers for the Army Superior Unit Award, the Combat Infantry Unit Streamer and the Afghanistan Campaign Streamer.

 “Together we have lived and made history,” Epperly said. He reflected on how the battalion had supported security operations for the first post-9/11 presidential inauguration and rapidly deployed to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also complimented the Soldiers on their performance in combat in some of the toughest conditions faced anywhere in the Global War on Terror.

“The last time we put a battle streamer on those colors was 1944,” he said. “What you have done is generational and historic. Thank you for what you do.”

A unit earns the Army Superior Unit Award during peacetime or outside a war zone for outstanding meritorious performance of a difficult and challenging mission carried out under extraordinary circumstances. The unit also earned the streamer in 1992 and 1993, as well as this year.

A Combat Infantry Unit Stream is awarded if 65 percent of a unit’s assigned strength has been awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge during military operations. The battalion earned this honor during its 2004 to 2005 deployment to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.

The final streamer was the unit’s Afghanistan Campaign Streamer which reflects the unit’s participation credit for having served in combat in Afghanistan.

Lt. Col. John Epperly, outgoing commander for 3rd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team, passes the unit colors to Col. William Phillips, commander of the 116th Brigade Combat Team. The passing of the unit colors symbolizes Epperly's change of command to Lt. Col. William Zana. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Epperly also announced that the unit has earned special recognition with the Walter T. Kerwin, Jr. Readiness Award and Milton A. Reckord Trophy for 2007. Both awards are part of the National Guard Association of the United States Army National Guard Awards Program that began in 1936 with the initial presentation of the Pershing Plaques for unit marksmanship. In 1975, the Milton A. Reckord Trophies were added. In 1978, the General Walter T. Kerwin Award for Readiness was established.

According the NGAUS, the Walter T. Kerwin, Jr. Readiness Award was established jointly by the NGAUS, the Association of the United States Army, and the Reserved Officers Association of the United States, in honor of General Walter T. Kerwin, Jr., former Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. The award recognizes outstanding Guard and Reserve unit readiness.

The Kerwin Awards are presented annually, normally by the Chief of Staff of the Army at the AUSA Conference. The Army National Guard winner is selected from among the recipients of the Major General Milton A. Reckord Trophy. Compensation is open to qualified Army Guard battalions with an annual training rating of excellent or outstanding and with at least two organic or attached unites that meet “Superior Unit Award” criteria.

Battalions also must have an effective maintenance program for all units and must achieve readiness objectives as outlined by U.S. Forces Command. The Army Guard Kerwin Award winner is the unit determined to have the highest level of readiness in the country.

The Milton A. Reckord Trophy is awarded to the outstanding battalion in each of the Army areas, providing all pertinent criteria are met (as described in the criteria for the Walter A. Kerwin, Jr. Readiness Award). Due to the stringent criteria stipulated for the award of this trophy, many areas do not boast an award winner on a yearly basis.

The Milton A. Reckord Trophy will be presented to the 3rd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team at the 130th NGAUS General Conference in Baltimore, Md., Sept. 22.

The Kerwin Award will be presented at the Eisenhower luncheon at the Association of the United States Army's annual meeting Oct. 7 at the Walter Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

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