In the ever-evolving
climate of modern warfare, force structure is an ongoing process to help units
adapt to best support the fight.
The U.S. Army has
been deployed to the Middle East for over a decade and a half. In that time
there have been many changes in the organization of units at every level.
One such battalion
that knows a great deal about change is the 150th Brigade Engineer Battalion,
of the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, Mississippi Army National Guard.
The sappers have had
the distinct responsibility of transitioning from a combat engineer battalion,
to a special troops battalion, to a brigade engineer battalion most recently.
The rich history of
the engineer battalion dates back to World War II when the unit was part of the
regular Army and made up of mostly New Englanders who had been drafted.
In 1954, the number
150 was allotted to the MSARNG, and since then the battalion has fulfilled the
roles of a transportation battalion and a quartermaster battalion before
transitioning to an engineer battalion in 1994.
The next decade saw the sappers exceed expectations in
support of the 155th ABCT through a National Training Center rotation in Ft.
Irwin, Calif. and a year-long deployment to Iraq in 2005 in support of
Operation Iraqi Freedom III.
In order to meet the
mission needs at the time, the unit operated as a provisional infantry
battalion with engineer capabilities. The 150th also performed multiple civil
affairs and intelligence missions.
Over 1,500 combat
patrols, 150 logistical patrols, and 150 company-sized operations were carried
out by the sappers.
Despite its success
during the deployment, the engineer battalion was not without its share of
tragedy. Four Soldiers were lost during the deployment, three to improvised
explosive devices and one to a vehicle accident: Sgt. 1st Class Sean M. Cooley,
Sgt. Larry R. Arnold Sr., Spc. Terrence Lee Sr., and Spc. Robert McNail.
The memories of
these men are honored in the hallways of the battalion headquarters in
Meridian, Miss., as well as in the battalion crest.
The four pillars at
the top of the engineer tower represent the four fallen Soldiers. The Bouie
knife hearkens back to the connection with the 155th ABCT and the “Mississippi
The white represents
a railroad track, paying homage to Meridian, Miss., where the battalion is
headquartered. The gauntlet represents engineers and the two stars pay tribute
to the WWII and Iraq deployments.
The red, white, and
blue reflect the state and national colors. The battalion motto, “Honor is Our
Strength,” is at the bottom of the crest and serves as the foundation for
everything the engineers do.
Staff Sgt. Paul
Lampton, a member of the 150th BEB from 1994-2015, was tasked with creating the
crest when it transitioned to the 155th Brigade Special Troops Battalion in
2006, after returning from Iraq.
“Coming up with the
motto was probably the hardest thing to do,” said Lampton. “I looked at the
crest and how it honored our past and what a strong family we were as a
battalion, and it just came to me - honor is our strength.”
The unit made the
transition in 2006 from a combat engineer battalion to the 155th BSTB. It lost
two of its
but gained military intelligence and signal companies, as well as detachments
of military police and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN)
In 2009, the BSTB deployed to Iraq for a second time and
the Guardsmen once again showed their ability to adapt and overcome. It was
tasked with three main missions: convoy escort, base defense, and a personal
security detail for VIPs.
In October 2016, the 155th BSTB transitioned to the 150th
BEB. The new battalion maintained the signal and military intelligence units
while adding more engineers to meet the needs of the brigade.
BEB gives that commander a little more flexibility than they had with the
special troops battalion, because over the years, commanders across the Army
had recognized that they just didn’t have enough
engineer assets (within the BSTB) to effectively sustain their support of the
brigade,” said Lt. Col. Kendrick L. Cager, the outgoing 150th BEB commander.
Cager was a former company commander in the battalion
during its first deployment to Iraq. He is transferring his command to another
former company commander from the 150th BEB, Maj. (P) Paul Lyon.
“This assignment is
especially meaningful to me as I have served the 150th in numerous assignments
over the years, culminating with a deployment to Iraq in 2005 as a company
commander,” said Lyon. “I have seen, first hand, the caliber of Soldiers within
this command and I look forward to serving with them again.”
The history of the
150th will continue to be written as the U.S. globally defends freedom.
In true engineer
fashion, the 150th BEB will strive to help its fellow units over, under,
around, or through any obstacle to insure success, for today and generations to