June 25, 2005
By Cadet Marque Siegelman
BLACKSTONE, Va. -- The 1st Brigade of the 29th Infantry Division underwent a change of command ceremony on June 19 at Fort Pickett, Va. The ceremony was an opportunity for 1st Brigade soldiers to bid farewell to their former commander, Col. Robert H. Simpson, and to welcome Col. Mike Harris to the command post.
The 1st Brigade of the 29th Infantry Division was born in 1742 when Col. James Patton organized the Augusta County Regiment of Militia in Georgia. While finding successes through the years, the brigade received its moniker, “the Stonewall Brigade” at the first battles of Manassas on July 21, 1861 while under the command of General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.
One hundred and forty-four years after the Civil War, our country is leading the global war on terrorism, and National Guard soldiers of the 1st Brigade carry on the ideals of the Stonewall Brigade.
Maj. Gen. Arthur H. Wyman, commanding general of the 29th Infantry Division, spoke to the attendees and commented on the leadership qualities of Simpson and Harris. According to Wyman, “The soldiers of the 1st Brigade are second to none, which is a direct reflection of the quality of the NCOs, officers and their outgoing commander.”
During his remarks, Simpson thanked those who supported him during his time as 1st Brigade commander. He thanked all those who provided him with guidance throughout his tenure. He also thanked his family for their constant support and wished his father a Happy Father’s Day.
Harris began his speech by thanking Simpson for preparing the unit to such a superb level of readiness and assured everyone in attendance that the Stonewall Brigade’s reputation would not be tarnished during his time as commander.
On Oct. 1, 2005 the Virginia National Guard will transition along with the active Army into more rapidly deploying brigade combat teams. Harris said he is looking forward to the unit’s future and stressed the need for modernization, the honing of basic warrior skills, and the bolstering of the ranks as sure keys to success.