Utah National Guard's I Corps Artillery Becomes the 65th Fires Brigade

 

By Lt. Col. Hank McIntire

 

Published October 4, 2008

 

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I Corps Artillery Soldiers provide a 75 mm gun salute to outgoing commander Brig. Gen. Michael R. Liechty Sept. 14.

Photo by Lt. Col. Hank McIntire

I Corps Artillery Soldiers provide a 75 mm gun salute to

outgoing commander Brig. Gen. Michael R. Liechty Sept. 14.

CAMP WILLIAMS, Utah In a smartly conducted ceremony that mirrored the precision required of Soldiers firing the big guns on the battlefield, the Utah National Guard’s I Corps Artillery was officially deactivated and transformed into the 65th Fires Brigade in a ceremony Sept. 14 on the Camp Williams parade field.

The clear and unusually windless morning at Camp Williams, combined with inspiring music from the 23rd Army Band and a 75mm cannon salute, set the stage for Brig. Gen. Michael R. Liechty, of Providence, to relinquish command of the Artillery Soldiers of the Utah National Guard to Lt. Col. Richard Miller, of Highland, who will lead them as the first commander of the 65th Fires Brigade.

Liechty had commanded I Corps Artillery since March 2007. Miller was commander of Second Battalion, 222nd Field Artillery, when the unit deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005-2006.

Brig. Gen. Michael Liechty, right, cases the colors of I Corps Artillery  with assistance from his brother, Command Sgt. Maj. James Liechty.

Photo by Lt. Col. Hank McIntire

Brig. Gen. Michael Liechty, right, cases the colors of I Corps Artillery

 with assistance from his brother, Command Sgt. Maj. James Liechty.

Hundreds of Soldiers stood at attention in formation on the field as Liechty cased the familiar flag of I Corps Artillery and Miller unfurled the colors of the new 65th Fires Brigade.

In his remarks following the ceremony on the field, the adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, called the day’s events a “bittersweet occasion,” and praised the Soldiers of I Corps Artillery for their dedication to the mission.

“There is a special quality to the Artillerymen in this State,” said Tarbet. “You‘ve shown it throughout the world in difficult places and in difficult times. This same great quality will carry the 65th forward as you do great things in the future.”

“These are the best two Artillery battalions in the Army—not just the National Guard,” continued Tarbet. “The [new] brigade will give us an opportunity to further refine and demonstrate our commitment to the Country and to the State.”

Brig. Gen. Michael Liechty, foreground, stands at the head of the I Corps Artillery formation for the last time on Camp Williams parade field.

Photo by Lt. Col. Hank McIntire

Brig. Gen. Michael Liechty, foreground, stands at the head of the I Corps Artillery formation for the last time on Camp Williams parade field.

Liechty, who was awarded the Utah Medal of Merit at the ceremony for his service in leading I Corps and for preparing the unit for the transition to the new fires brigade, expressed gratitude to his Soldiers assembled on the field.

“Your performance is always outstanding and is always professional,” he said. “It has been an honor for me to command this unit.”

Liechty explained to his Soldiers that when the Army decided to field seven new fires brigades in the National Guard nationwide, Utah was selected “because of your performance.”

“I was a little emotional when we rolled up the colors for I Corps Artillery, but the colors for the new 65th Fires Brigade look pretty good,” confessed Liechty. “There is a lot of heritage in that unit patch. Remember your roots and where you come from.”

Lt. Col. Richard Miller, right, unfurls the colors of the new 65th Fires Brigade with Command Sgt. Maj. James Liechty Sept. 13.

Photo by Lt. Col. Hank McIntire

Lt. Col. Richard Miller, right, unfurls the colors of the new 65th

Fires Brigade with Command Sgt. Maj. James Liechty Sept. 13.

Calling Miller “the right man, at the right time, in the right job to get this unit off to a good start,” Tarbet expressed his confidence in Miller’s ability to lead the 65th, which will be comprised of the following units in several states:

  • 1-145th Fires Battalion (Paladin) – Utah National Guard

  • 2-222nd Fires Battalion (Paladin) – Utah National Guard

  • 5-113th Fires Battalion (HIMARS) – North Carolina National Guard

  • 1-178th Fires Battalion (PALADIN) – South Carolina National Guard

  • 1-214th Fires Battalion (PALADIN) – Georgia National Guard

  • 340th Brigade Support Battalion – California National Guard

  • F/144 Target Acquisition Battery – California National Guard

  • 156th Signal Company – Michigan National Guard.

Lt. Col. Richard Miller, left foreground, leads the first formation of the 65th Fires Brigade.

Photo by Lt. Col. Hank McIntire

Lt. Col. Richard Miller, left foreground, leads

 the first formation of the 65th Fires Brigade.

The transition from I Corps Artillery to the 65th Fires Brigade is part of an overall Army master plan to restructure the fighting force to a more mobile, responsive and modular organization.

The new unit’s history indicates perhaps why it was designated as the 65th Fires Brigade. Its lineage traces back to the 65th Artillery, which was mustered into service in 1917 for World War I. In 1936, the 65th Artillery Brigade became part of the Utah National Guard with Brig. Gen. William G. Williams as its commander, for whom Camp Williams is named. 

The 65th was activated for service in World War II, serving under the 40th Infantry Division. In 1946 the 65th was redesignated as XLIII Corps Artillery and in 1950 was renamed XI Corps Artillery, later serving during the Berlin Crisis in 1961-62.

Members of the new 65th Fires Brigade pose with the outgoing and incoming colors of their unit.

Photo by Lt. Col. Hank McIntire

Members of the new 65th Fires Brigade pose with

the outgoing and incoming colors of their unit.

In 1984, XI Corps became I Corps Artillery, and its units and Soldiers served in support of Operations Desert Shield/Storm, Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

As the last officer to speak at the ceremony, new commander Miller called for his Soldiers to do their best to measure up to their legacy.

“This is an opportunity to move forward to keep the traditions and standards set so high by our predecessors,” he said. “How fortunate we are to be Soldiers in this Fires Brigade. I challenge you to learn something each day, move forward, set high standards, and do the best we can do.”