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The Mountaineer Online

2013 Year in Review

In October, Fort Drum unveiled the new Fallen Warrior Monument, which honors 10th Mountain warriors past, present and future. The two-part monument also depicts a “hope for the future” theme (not pictured) in which two Soldiers in full battle gear move out on patrol as one of them turns back and reaches for the outstretched arm of a child. Photo by Steve Ghiringhelli.
In October, Fort Drum unveiled the new Fallen Warrior Monument, which honors 10th Mountain warriors past, present and future. The two-part monument also depicts a “hope for the future” theme (not pictured) in which two Soldiers in full battle gear move out on patrol as one of them turns back and reaches for the outstretched arm of a child. Photo by Steve Ghiringhelli.

Melody Everly, Steve Ghiringhelli and Michelle Kennedy

Staff Writers


*The Fort Drum community rededicates Mountain Functional Fitness Facility, renaming it Atkins Functional Fitness Facility in honor of Staff Sgt. Travis W. Atkins. Atkins, an NCO with 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, was mortally wounded while shielding his Soldiers from an explosion in 2007.

*Local, state and military officials gather to name the I-781 connector road between I-81 and Fort Drum after the late Lt. Gen. Paul G. Cerjan, a former 10th Mountain Division (LI) assistant commander known as the architect of North Post for his efforts in support of the installation’s expansion.

*Soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team and 2nd Brigade Combat Team case their colors in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan during a combined ceremony at Magrath Sports Complex.

*Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signs into law the NY SAFE Act, one of the nation’s toughest gun-control laws.

*A group of wounded warriors from the 10th Mountain Division (LI) attend the inauguration ceremony marking the start of President Barack H. Obama’s second term in office.

*Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey sign a memo rescinding a 1994 directive which stated, in part, that women could not be assigned to units “whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground.”



*Fort Drum is named winner of the 2012 Best Army Antiterrorism Program (Large Installation) by the Department of the Army. Over the past year, members of Fort Drum’s antiterrorism program planned for expansion of the mass notification system, installed stationary barriers, and provided focused active shooter situational training, to name just a few of their accomplishments.

*Fort Drum officials launch a new battery recycling program that may be the only one of its kind Armywide. Special battery collection containers were placed in multiple locations around post in an effort to ensure that recyclable materials, such as alkaline batteries, do not end up in landfills.

*Soldiers of 1st Brigade Combat Team conduct a transfer of authority ceremony, marking the first time U.S forces have transferred authority to Afghan National Security Forces in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.

*Former NFL great Herschel Walker visits Fort Drum to share the story of his fight against mental illness and to encourage Soldiers to seek help when needed.

*Soldiers from 10th Mountain Division (LI) conduct a Mountain Winter Challenge to honor past division Soldiers, foster esprit de corps and compete to be recognized as the top winter warfare team. Approximately 60 teams of three Soldiers each participate in events such as snowshoeing, a marksmanship challenge, cross-country skiing and more.

*A World War II-era flag is raised at Hays Hall in honor of all who have lost their lives in previous wars and those that will be fought in times to come.



*Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team participate in Catamount Peak, a weeklong field training exercise designed to increase infantrymen’s proficiency in small arms and crew-served weapons, mortars and fighting in urban terrain.

*Leaders of 10th Combat Aviation Brigade’s medical evacuation company case its colors during a ceremony at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield ahead of the brigade’s deployment to Afghanistan.

*Members of the Fort Drum community gather to commemorate the 10th anniversary of a Black Hawk crash that occurred during a routine training exercise and to pay tribute to the 11 Soldiers who lost their lives in the accident.

*Soldiers, Family Members and members of the local community gather for a memorial ceremony in honor of Nathan E. Morrell. A World War II veteran and local resident, Morrell was extensively involved in the 10th Mountain Division (LI) community for years and was named the division’s “Mountain Man of the Year” in 2007.

*Six Soldiers from 10th Combat Aviation Brigade receive Air Medals for Valor during a ceremony at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield. In addition, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew chief received the French Cross for Military Valor.

* Fort Drum personnel respond to a simulated OH-58 Kiowa helicopter crash landing to practice egress and extrication skills. Full-scale exercises, such as this simulation, help build skills, capabilities and communications of various agencies so that they are prepared in the event of a real emergency.



*Fort Drum is named an Army Community of Excellence bronze award winner for its outstanding support and services to 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers and Families. This marks the fourth consecutive year that Fort Drum has been ranked among the Army’s top installations.

*Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visits Soldiers of 2nd Brigade Combat Team at Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan. While visiting, he awarded 22 Commando Brigade Soldiers with Combat Infantryman, Combat Action and Combat Medic Badges for their actions while in contact with the enemy.

*Two out of three teams representing Fort Drum finish in 19th and 21st place in the grueling 60-hour David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition held at Fort Benning, Ga. This year’s teams were made up of Rangers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Brigade Combat Team and 10th Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Drum and 4th Brigade Combat Team from Fort Polk, La.

*Leaders of 10th Combat Aviation Brigade case its colors during a deployment ceremony at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield. The ceremony marks the unit’s upcoming deployment – its fourth to Afghanistan and its fifth in support of the global war on terrorism.

*Soldiers from nearly every brigade in 10th Mountain Division (LI) participate in a rigorous nine-day training exercise known as Mountain Peak. The primary purpose of the exercise is to prepare 3rd Brigade Combat Team for its upcoming mission rehearsal exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.

*The 10th Mountain Division recognizes the accomplishments of two Soldiers from its ranks. Staff Sgt. Jason Selvon, from 91st Military Police Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, and Spc. Derek J. Probizanski, from 4th Brigade Combat Team, Fort Polk, La., won the 10th Mountain Division (LI) NCO and Soldier of the Year Competition at Fort Drum.



*Twenty-six two-man teams from across the division compete in the two-day Mountain Spring Challenge, the first in a series of four seasonal events aimed at testing Soldiers’ military skills and physical fitness in a competitive atmosphere that promotes tactical excellence and esprit de corps. Soldiers tackled everything from stress shoots and ruck marches to rock climbing and the urban obstacle course.

*As a part of Operation Pamier, the Afghan National Army’s D-30 Howitzer Platoon from Forward Operating Base Orgun-E achieves a significant milestone, displacing close to the Pakistan border and in contested territory.

*The state of New York declares its second “10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Day” in honor of a post that has emerged over the last two decades as the DOD’s premier power projection platform in the Northeast and one of the Army’s most vital installations. Members of the division and its command team gathered at the New York State Capitol in Albany to tour the Senate building, enjoy a luncheon and hear Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander, address the Senate chamber.

*Members of 10th Combat Aviation Brigade’s Task Force Falcon begin their deployment to the eastern and northern areas of Afghanistan during a transfer of authority ceremony at Bagram Airfield. TF Falcon leaders assumed Army aviation operations for the region from the Soldiers of 101st Combat Aviation Brigade.

*The 8th Military Police Working Dog Detachment, 91st Military Police Battalion, is recognized as winner of the U.S. Army Forces Command’s Best Military Working Dog Detachment Award. The prestigious award recognizes the detachment that best exemplifies the Army’s rigorous requirements for combat readiness.
*Fort Drum officials invite off-post civilian emergency medical service providers onto post for an EMS Day training event, allowing them to learn from some of the Army’s most advanced medical protocols while touring the installation’s world-class medical simulation complex. Some 60 EMS personnel and medical providers from throughout the North Country and beyond attended the daylong event.

*Paul Monti, father of fallen Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti, meets country singer Lee Brice and songwriters Jimmy Yeary, Connie Harrington and Jessi Alexander during an event in Nashville celebrating the chart-topping country song “I Drive Your Truck.” Harrington was inspired to co-write the song with Yeary and Alexander after hearing Monti on the radio two years ago sharing his story about driving his son’s truck as a way of staying close to him.



*The 10th Mountain Division (LI) command group conducts a Mountain Salute ceremony to bid farewell to Brig. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, outgoing deputy commanding general for support, while welcoming Col. Carl A. Alex, incoming deputy commander for support.

*The Quartermaster Corps honors 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, as Distinguished Unit of the Regiment during a ceremony at Fort Lee, Va.

*The Department of the Army announces that the 3rd Brigade Combat Team at Fort Drum will be inactivated as part of a reorganization plan to achieve an Army end-strength of 490,000 by 2017. The reduction is consistent with fiscal constraints resulting from the Budget Control Act of 2011 and defense planning guidance issued in 2012.

*In front of historic LeRay Mansion, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno promotes Col. Mark J. O’Neil, 10th Mountain Division (LI) deputy commander - operations, to brigadier general.

*More than 4,500 Fort Drum community members help kick off the post’s annual Mountainfest celebration with Riverfest – a daylong event at Alexandria Bay where fun-filled children’s activities included a riverboat ride and a stop at historic Boldt Castle on Heart Island.

*Thousands of Soldiers, Family Members and community members participate in annual Mountainfest activities. Sporting competitions, a remembrance ceremony, children’s activities, a Salute to the Nation, fireworks and a multiple-act concert headlined by country music star Craig Morgan packed the weeklong event full of camaraderie, quiet reflection and fun-filled celebrations.



*Some 650,000 Defense Department Civilians (including 1,800 at Fort Drum) begin their 88 hours of furlough, scheduled to be distributed to each person by one day a week for a total of 11 days through the end of the fiscal year in September. In August, however, DOD announced the 20-percent pay reduction would last only six days instead of the original 11 days.

*Soldiers from 4th Brigade Combat Team Soldiers arrive in eastern Afghanistan to begin a nine-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

*Col. Mark W. Thompson relinquishes command of U.S. Army Medical Department Activity at Fort Drum to Col. Matthew E. Mattner. Maj. Gen. M. Ted Wong, commanding general of Northern Regional Medical Command, presided over the ceremony.

*Col. Michael P. Mahoney relinquishes command of U.S. Army Dental Activity at Fort Drum to Col. Valerie E. Holmes during a change of command ceremony presided over by Col. Robert J. Miller Jr., commander of Northern Regional Dental Command.

*Soldiers assigned to 693rd Engineer Company, 7th Engineer Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, as well as the brigade’s 543rd Military Police Company, 91st Military Police Battalion, return to Fort Drum after nine-month deployments to Afghanistan.

*Gen. John F. Campbell, vice chief of staff of the Army, visits post to review Fort Drum’s Ready and Resilient Campaign, known as R2C. Part of his Health of the Force trip to Army installations, Campbell was accompanied by Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, commanding general of U.S. Army Installation Management Command, and other Army leaders, all of whom interacted with Soldiers, spouses, Fort Drum program managers and Civilians.


*During a visit to Forward Operating Base Gamberi, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno recognizes the outstanding efforts of eight 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers by presenting each of them with his official coin.
*Leveraging Capability Set 13, Soldiers from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), rely on the Army’s latest technology to stay connected and cover more ground in their advise-and-assist missions in support of Afghan National Security Forces. The Fort Polk, La.-based brigade is the first unit to deploy CS 13 in theater.

*Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announces seven new initiatives to strengthen and standardize the DOD’s sexual assault prevention and response effort. In his memo, Hagel called elimination of sexual assault in the military one of DOD’s top priorities.

*More than 100 Soldiers from 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams arrive at Fort Drum after a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.

*Soldiers, Civilians and Family Members celebrate the opening of Fort Drum’s new state-of-the-art, 5,000-square-foot Army Wellness Center. The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the 12th such facility to open across the Army.

Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, meets and recognizes a five-man team from 725th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 63rd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, for its response in June to an emergency call from civilian law enforcement downstate requiring assistance with a large quantity of military munitions discovered at a residence in Westchester County.

* Fort Drum community members gather to dedicate a historic marker in memory of five World War II veterans who lost their lives on post more than 60 years ago. The plaque dedication was the culmination of nearly three years of research and archaeological investigation into a barracks fire that occurred early Dec. 10, 1947, on what was then known as Pine Camp.



*Fort Drum emergency personnel respond to an active shooter during the post’s annual mass casualty exercise. The drill tested more than 100 first responders from Fort Drum and surrounding communities on their practical, communication and coordination skills.

*More than 600 community members participate in the first Mountain Mudder event. The race, organized by Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers and Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, offered Soldiers, Civilians and Family Members a chance to test their fitness, maneuver around 13 obstacles and have fun in the mud during the 4.5-mile trek.

*Members of 1st Brigade Combat Team begin their return from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. Parts of the brigade deployed as a Security Forces Assistance Team and served in an advisory / assistance role to the Afghan National Security Force.

*On Sept. 12, Department of Defense names Fort Drum as one of five military installations that could be selected to host a missile defense site.



*Federal Civilian Employees start the first day of furlough due to a government shutdown that could not be avoided when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. At Fort Drum, the furlough was in effect for roughly seven days, after DOD Civilians were directed to return to work.

*Brig. Gen. Carl A. Alex, 10th Mountain Division (LI) deputy commanding general – support, receives his first star Oct. 1 during a ceremony at the Commons.

*Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) veterans observe the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu. Members of 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, took part of one of the bloodiest battles since Vietnam on Oct. 3, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia. Soldiers, past and present, gathered to pay tribute to mark the anniversary of the battle.

*Two Fort Drum women are selected to compete in the Ironman World Championship, Oct. 12, in Kona, Hawaii. Capt. Jessica Lee Forman, commander of C Company, 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, represented the Army in the Military Division, and Audra Adair, whose husband, Capt. Charles Adair, serves with 91st Military Police Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, participated in a competition that draws nearly 1,800 athletes each year.

*President Barack Obama presents former Capt. William D. Swenson, a veteran with Fort Drum ties, with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony Oct. 15 at the White House. Swenson was awarded the medal for his heroic actions during a six-hour battle in Afghanistan in 2008. During the deployment, he was attached to 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

*Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team begin their return to Fort Drum from Afghanistan. The unit deployed as a Security Force Assistance Brigade.

*Fort Drum garrison unveils the Fallen Warrior Monument, a project funded by the Civilian workforce to honor the service and sacrifices of 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers. The memorial was paid for with funds the garrison workforce earned from the 2011 Army Communities of Excellence competition.

*Fort Drum welcomes a new garrison senior enlisted leader. Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas W. Geddings took responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Mark H. Oldroyd during a ceremony Oct. 28 at Magrath Sports Complex.



*The New York Air National Guard dedicates a new MQ-9 hangar on Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield on Nov. 5. Members of the 174th Attack Wing operate and train at the new Launch and Recovery Element Hangar.

*Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team begin their last deployment to Afghanistan as the Spartan Brigade. The unit’s role will be to assist in the transfer of all operational control of the security mission in Afghanistan to the country’s government.

*Robert and Linda Ollis, parents of Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis, receive the Polish Army Gold Medal on Nov. 12 at the Polish Embassy in New York City. Ollis, a 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, Soldier, was killed in action Aug. 28 while saving a Polish officer at Forward Operating Base Ghazni. Ollis’ parents also accepted their son’s Silver Star Medal during a ceremony Oct. 24 at Fort Drum.

*Community welcomes Brig. Gen. Michael L. Howard as 10th Mountain Division (LI) deputy commanding general- rear. Howard will take on responsibilities for the division during its deployment to Afghanistan beginning in 2014.

*Food service Soldiers from 10th Sustainment Brigade earn the coveted title of Commanding General’s Best Dining Facility during the annual Thanksgiving celebration. DFAC staffs from across the installation created culinary masterpieces in hopes of earning the award.



*Twenty-three NCOs at Fort Drum are inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club on Dec. 3. The ceremony was the first induction of new members to take place at Fort Drum in roughly 10 years.

*Soldiers from C Company “Dustoff,” 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, return home from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. The company deployed ahead of the brigade to perform the medevac mission in Regional Command – East.

*Warrior Brigade Soldiers welcome a new commander. Col. Frederick “Mark” O’Donnell assumed command of 1st Brigade Combat Team from Col. Stephen L.A. Michael during a ceremony Dec. 6 at Magrath Sports Complex.

*Fort Drum employee receives regional recognition. Michelle Roden, Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers senior program adviser, is selected as one of NNY Business Magazine’s 20 Under 40 Emerging Leaders.

*On Dec. 13, division leaders present the first “Mountain Tough” marksmanship streamers to two 1st Brigade Combat Team units. Soldiers of D Company, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, and C Troop, 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, were the first to meet the division’s new marksmanship standards.

The Mountaineer



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