BLUFFDALE — More than 50 Utah National Guard members of the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade are now wearing a different patch on their shoulders to fulfill a new approach by the Army.
During a patch ceremony at Camp Williams Friday, 53 Utah National Guard members were aligned with the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
“It’s a historic thing that hasn’t happened,” said 1st Lt. Mikel Jackson, Detachment 2 commander, 101st Airborne Division.
Due to budget cuts and downsizing of active Army units, reserve and Guard units will fill critical gaps and create a multi-component unit. The 101st is the first active division to incorporate those part-time units.
“It's good for the Army to save money, but also use all of the assets and use all of the training that we have, and all of the soldiers you have worldwide,” Jackson said.
"I'm trying to go Army full time for the rest of my career,” said Sgt. Clay Roundtree. Lining up with something like this will help me prepare for that."
The 101st is one of the most decorated units in American military history, having landed on the beaches of Normandy and fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II to the Battle of Hamburger Hill in Vietnam.
"We have a very storied history, and we continue to build on that history,” said Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky, 101st Airborne Division commander.
"It's an honor to be part of both the Guard and 101st. It means there's a lot of opportunity for growth," said Sgt. Tierra Timarky. “It’s very exciting. It’s beyond words.”
One reason this alignment is so important for both units is that the 101st Airborne deploys often, and the members of the Utah National Guard bring expertise and considerable wartime experience.
"The experience they have as being one of the most deployed brigades in the National Guard, we’re lucky to get them,” Volesky said. “We got some exercises planned where we will bring them up to Fort Campbell and integrate fully with the division, so that when we get the call to go, they are fully prepared to go.”
The members of the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade will remain part-time National Guard service members with duty in Utah. When the 101st deploys, these guardsmen wearing the "screaming eagle" will deploy with them.
"They're wearing the 101st patch, so when we get the call and we mobilize, we're going to take them with us,” Volesky said.
The guardsmen will go from 15 training days a year to 54, with training time split between Fort Campbell and Camp Williams.
Because this is a new concept for the Army, the commanding general says they will work out many of the unknowns as the units train together.
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc