During World War I, an infantry brigade from the 20th Infantry Division was organized as the 39th Brigade from October 1918 to February 1919 consisting of the 48th and 89th Infantry Regiments, however this unit has no connection to the current 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The main antecedent of today's brigade was the 39th Infantry Division, created in 1917, which consisted of troops from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The division shipped to France, August – September 1918. It was then sent to the St. Florent area, southwest of Bourges, where it was designated as a replacement division and several of the units were transferred to combat divisions. The division demobilized the following month at Camp Beauregard, Louisiana. The unit was demobilized after the war.
In the years between the World Wars, the division headquarters was deactivated, but its Arkansas elements continued as part of the Arkansas National Guard. These former 39th Division elements were activated independently for WWII. For a history of their participation, see the article on the 153rd Infantry Regiment and the 206th Coast Artillery.
The 39th Infantry Division was reconstituted on 30 September 1946. It was composed of units from Arkansas and Louisiana, with its headquarters stationed at New Orleans, Louisiana and the Arkansas portion headquartered in Little Rock Arkansas. During this period the division included the 153rd Infantry Regiment, the 156th Infantry Regiment, and the 206th Artillery Regiment.
In 1967 the division was redesignated as the 39th Infantry Brigade (Separate) and in 1973 was paired with the US 101st Airborne Division as a training partner and became an air-assault brigade. The following Regiments were represented in the 39th Infantry Brigade (Separate): 153rd Infantry Regiment, 151st Cavalry Regiment and the 206th Field Artillery Regiment.
In 1994 the 39th was again reorganized and gained its designation as an "enhanced" brigade.
In 1999, the 39th became part of the 7th Infantry Division under the Army Integrated Division concept which paired National Guard and Reserve brigades with active duty headquarters and support units.
In 2006, the 7th Infantry Division was deactivated and the 39th IBCT was placed under the command and control of the 36th Infantry Division (United States) (Texas National Guard).
On 2 November 1967 in accordance with National Guard Bureau Memo NG-AROTO 1002-01, the 39th Infantry Division was reorganized and redesignated as the 39th Infantry Brigade. This change resulted in a massive restationing within the state as follows:
39th Brigade units conducted numerous overseas training rotations throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.1981, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 153rd Infantry (Walnut Ridge and Piggott) conducted annual training in Great Britain with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers as part of the Volunteer Warrior/Hard Charger Exercise.
1986, Company B, 1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry conducted annual training in Honduras.
1988, two batteries of the 5th Battalion, 206th Field Artillery conducted annual training in Honduras, Companies B and C, 2-153 IN conducted annual training in Great Britain as a part of Operation "Glo Worm/Rattlesnake", at Camp Crickhowell, Wales, hosted by members of the 5th Light Infantry English Citizen Soldiers.
1990, Company A, 1–153rd and Company C, 3rd Battalion, 153rd Infantry, along with the entire 5–206th Field Artillery conducted annual training in Honduras as part of the National Guard Bureau's Overseas Training Program. Company C, 1–153rd IN conducted annual training in the United Kingdom.
1991, 1–153rd Infantry deployed with selected members of 2–153rd on a SOUTHCOM rotation to the Jungle Operations Training Center (JOTO) at Fort Sherman, Panama.
1992, Companies A, B and C, 2–153rd Infantry conducted annual training in Honduras in three separate rotations.
Company B, 2nd Battalion, 153 Infantry, and Company B, 3rd Battalion, 153rd Infantry of the 39th BCT were activated for Operation Southern Watch, May through September 1999. Company B, 2–153rd deployed to Kuwait while Company B, 3–153rd deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia. Soldiers provided security at Patriot missile batteries during these deployments. The mission lasted a total of seven months, and was the first "pure" National Guard effort in the region. Company C, 1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry carried on the 39th's role in Operation Southern Watch when they replaced Company B, 2–153rd IN in September 1999.
Company B, 3rd Battalion, 153rd Infantry was the first National Guard unit since the Vietnam War to be involuntarily mobilized by presidential order (President Bill Clinton). The unit was mobilized to support operations in Operation Southern Watch. The 3rd BN Commander was LTC Ewing, B Company Commander was CPT Rozenberg and the company first sergeant was 1SG Nutt. B Company consisted of over 120 soldiers from the Camden and Fordyce units and volunteers from other areas of south and central Arkansas. The unit primarily provided security for two active duty Army Patriot missile batteries in Saudi Arabia. The units conducted initial training for the deployment in Camp Robinson Arkansas and 7th ID in Fort Carson Colorado. The success of the mission laid the ground work for additional deployments of National Guard units.
In March 2001, Company D, 1–153rd and Company D, 3–153rd deployed to Bosnia as part of the Multinational Stabilization Force (SFOR), Security Force Nine in order to assist with the enforcement of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH). The companies were attached to 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division for the deployment as part of Task Force Eagle. They performed presence patrols outside Forward Operating Base Morgan and Camp McGovern, and participated in the consolidation of weapon storage sites. The soldiers also guarded the sites.
On 8 October 2001, 2–153 Infantry was activated. Second Battalion was sent to Egypt in order to take over the Multinational Force and Observers mission, freeing up regular army infantry units to deploy to Afghanistan.
The 2-153's mission during the MFO was: "...to supervise the implementation of the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace and employ best efforts to prevent any violation of its terms." This mission was accomplished by carrying out four tasks: operating checkpoints, observation posts and conducting reconnaissance patrols on the international border as well as within Zone C; verification of the terms of the peace treaty not less than twice a month; verification of the terms of the peace treaty within 48 hours, upon the request of either party, and ensuring freedom of international marine navigation in the Strait of Tiran and access to the Gulf of Aqaba.
This was the first "pure" National Guard takeover of the MFO mission. 2-153 Infantry deactivated on 11 October 2002.
The 39th Infantry Brigade was notified in 2002 that it would be participating in a rotation to the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, LA. For National Guard brigades, a rotation is actually a three-year process that provides additional money, resources and training opportunities in order to improve unit readiness before the actual rotation through the JRTC. The brigade was required to complete a mission rehearsal exercise during the 2003 annual training which was conducted at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Less than a month after the completion of this major training milestone, the brigade received its alert for deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on 28 July 2003.
On 12 October 2003, the brigade, commanded by Brigadier General Ronald Chastain (now Major General retired), was ordered to federal service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II for a period of up to 18 months. The brigade conducted post mobilization training at Fort Hood, Texas from October 2003 until January 2004. In January the brigade shipped its vehicles and equipment to Iraq from Fort Hood, and then moved to Fort Polk for a Mission Rehearsal Exercise at the JRTC. While there, on 17 February 2004, President George W. Bush visited the 39th and had an MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) lunch in a field mess tent with soldiers. After lunch, President Bush made brief remarks to the soldiers.
When the brigade received its alert, it was approximately 700 soldiers short of its authorized end strength. This shortage was due in large part to the way new recruits are accounted for in the National Guard. In the active Army a new recruit only comes to a unit and is counted on its books after the soldier has completed Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training. In the National Guard, the new recruit is counted on the unit's strength reports as soon as the Soldier signs their contract. The brigade had over 500 soldiers who had not completed either Basic or Advanced Individual Training upon alert.
This shortage led to the decision to consolidate the available manning into two infantry battalions that would be supplied for the brigade by the Arkansas National Guard and to ask the National Guard Bureau to provide the third infantry battalion. Because of the 2002 deployment of the 2-153 Infantry Battalion to the MFO, the battalion was deemed non-deployable as an organization, however the soldiers of the battalion were to deploy. The decision was made by BG Chastain to transfer the battalion commander and staff from 2–153 IN to 3–153 Infantry. The 3-153 IN commander and staff were transferred to 2–153 and were designated to function as the brigade's rear detachment during OIF II. This transfer led to the 3-153 IN often being referred to as the two thirds (2/3) battalion by members of the 39th BCT. 3–153rd IN adopted the 2–153rd IN's nickname and call sign, "Gunslingers" for OIF II.
National Guard Bureau met the brigade's need for additional soldiers by alerting 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, from the Oregon National Guard; a platoon of Company B, 1st Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, New York National Guard; a platoon of Company C, 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Regiment from the Connecticut National Guard; the 1115th Transportation Company and elements of the 642nd Maintenance Company from the New Mexico Army National Guard; elements of 629th Military Intelligence Battalion from the Maryland National Guard; elements of HHSC, 233rd Military Intelligence Company, California National Guard; and, Battery A, 1st Battalion, 103rd Field Artillery, Rhode Island National Guard to round out the brigade and bring it to its full deployment strength of 3700 soldiers. With the addition of Company A, 28th Signal Battalion, from the Pennsylvania National Guard, the 39th Brigade included National Guard soldiers from ten states.
The 39th Brigade's mission during Operation Iraqi Freedom was to conduct full-spectrum operations focused on stability and support operations and to secure key terrain in and around Baghdad, supported by focused and fully integrated information [IO] and civil-military operations, in order to enable the progressive transfer of authority to the Iraqi people, their institutions and a legitimate Iraqi national government.
The lines of operation as established by 1st Cavalry Division included:
train and equip security forces;
promote governance; and,
with information operations interconnected throughout.
The end state envisioned by Maj. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli of these full spectrum operations was a secure and stable environment for Iraqis, maintained by indigenous police and security forces under the direction of a legitimate, national government that is freely elected and accepts economic pluralism.
The 39th Infantry Brigade relieved the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division in the Baghdad neighborhoods of Adhamiyah and Rusafa as well as elements of 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division at Camp Taji. This relief in place took place in the midst of a multiparty insurgency uprising. The brigade's convoys were heavily opposed during the convoy north. The brigade was task organized with 1–153rd IN being detached to 3rd BCT, 1st Cavalry Brigade, in exchange for the attachment of 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, of George Armstrong Custer and LZ Albany fame, to the 39th Brigade.
1-153rd IN was headquartered in the Green Zone in Baghdad with the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
The 39th BCT Headquarters, 239 MI Company, 239 Engineer Company, 2–7th CAV and 1–206th FA were stationed at Camp Cooke in Taji, Iraq.
2–7th CAV controlled a massive area of operations that stretched from just north of the Baghdad City Gate, north along Iraqi Highway 1, (MSR Tampa) to the city of Mushada, bounded on the east by the Tigris River, and stretching west to the boundary with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) east of Fallujah. This Area of Operations was twice assumed by 1–206th FA when 2–7th CAV was detached from the 39th IBCT. 2–7th CAV was tasked with providing a Military Assistance Training Team to Company D, 307th Iraq National Guard Battalion, based in Mushada, Iraq.
1-206th FA provided fires in support of 39th Brigade combat operations from Camp Taji; functioned as the base defense operations center (BDOC) for Camp Taji, manned the main entry control point (ECP) for Camp Taji; provided convoy and VIP escorts; and, controlled a small area of operations south of Camp Taji between Iraqi Highway 1 and the Tigris River. On two occasions 1–206th FA became responsible for the entire area of operations assigned to the 2–7 Cavalry. The 1–206th Field Artillery was also tasked with providing a military assistance training team to the Headquarters and Companies A, B, and C of the 307th Iraqi National Guard Battalion, which was also stationed at Camp Taji. The 307th was the only Iraqi army element stationed on the Coalition Forces side of Camp Taji.
3-153rd IN was stationed at FOB Gunslinger (aka FOB Solidarity), in the Adhamiyah neighborhood of Baghdad which lies immediately to the west of Sadr City. Additionally 3–153rd was charged with patrolling a large area of operations that stretched north from Baghdad along the east side of the Tigris River, and included the city of Hussainiyah, a town of 500,000 about 12 miles north of Baghdad. 3–153rd Infantry was tasked with providing a military assistance training team to support the Headquarters and Companies C and D of the 301st Iraqi National Guard Battalion, and Company C, 102nd Iraqi National Guard Battalion.
2–162nd Infantry was stationed at FOB Volunteer in the Rusafa neighborhood of Baghdad which lies to the south of Sadr City. 2–162nd Infantry was tasked with supplying a military assistance training team to Companies A and B, of the 301st Iraqi National Guard Battalion.
In April 2004 the 39th came under rocket attack at Camp Cooke in Taji, resulting in four Arkansas soldiers killed in action, all members of the 39th Support Battalion, headquartered in Hazen, Arkansas. The 24 April attack resulted in the highest single day casualty total for Arkansas soldiers since the Korean War.
Members of Company C, 1–153rd spent weeks fighting as part of Task Force 1–9 CAV, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division on the hotly contested area of Haifa Street in Baghdad.
2–7th Cavalry, including 1st Platoon, Company C, 3–153rd) was twice detached from the 39th BCT to act as the corps reserve. In August 2004, 2–7 was detached from Multi National Division Baghdad (MND-B) to Multi National Division-South (MND-S) as part of the Battle of Najaf (2004). In November 2004, 2–7 Cavalry was detached to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force to take part in Operation Al-Fajr, Second Battle of Fallujah.
3-153rd IN provided security to two massive Shiite marches to the Khadamiyah Shrine which were staged through Sunni neighborhoods. They were accompanied by very little violence due to the battalion’s work with Iraqi National Guard and Iraqi Police officials.
On 3 October 2004, SSG Christopher Potts (Battery A, 1–103rd FA) and SGT Russell "Doc" Collier, from 1st Battalion, 206th Field Artillery were killed in a fire fight with insurgents near the village of Musurraf, south of Camp Taji along the Tigris River. SGT Collier was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions when he moved forward under heavy enemy fire in order to render aid to SSG Potts who had been shot while attempting to silence an enemy automatic weapon. SSG Potts was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with V Device for his actions.
On 14 November 2004, a patrol of 307th Iraqi National Guard Soldiers with an adviser team from 1st Battalion, 206th Field Artillery led by CPT John Vanlandingham, and an escort platoon from B Company, 3-153 Infantry was ambushed north of Mushada, Iraq. CPT Vanlandingham received the Silver Star medal for his actions to save several wounded Iraqi Army soldiers who had become separated from the patrol during the ambush. CPT Vanlandingham repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire in order to carry wounded Iraqi soldiers to safety.
The most coordinated enemy attack the brigade had seen occurred on 20 November 2004 when twenty-six soldiers of Company C, 3–153rd Infantry were ambushed near Ft. Apache in North Baghdad. They fended off over 100 insurgents for several hours without ammunition resupply or support. The platoon leader, First Lieutenant Michael McCarty, despite being wounded, endured intense enemy direct fire and personally neutralized an enemy machine gun emplacement without support. Lieutenant McCarty received the Silver Star for going above and beyond the call of duty.
1-153rd IN conducted over 8,200 combat patrols, captured six division targets and contained or disrupted 15 vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks in their sector. The battalion worked to suppress indirect fire attacks on the International Zone during the Transfer of Iraqi Sovereignty and weekly Iraqi National Congress meetings. The 1–153rd battalion commander, LTC Kendall Penn also worked closely with the Karahda District Counsel to oversee over six million dollars of infrastructure and community improvement projects in the battalion's area of operations.
The 39th BCT was instrumental in the January 2005 elections. The brigade was responsible for the establishment and security of 20 different polling sites within the brigade's area of operations. In order to avoid jeopardizing the credibility of the election process, it was necessary to avoid a Coalition Force presence at the polling sites. This meant that the security at the polling sites would be the responsibility of the New Iraqi Army units for which the 39th was responsible. 39th Brigade leaders spent countless hours planning and coordination with Iraqi counterpart units and governmental elections officials, and not one polling site in the 39th BCT area of operations was disrupted or forced to close.
The members of the brigade's 239th Engineer Company stationed in Camp Cooke and their families back in Arkansas were the subject of a TV documentary series that aired on the Discovery Times channel called Off To War.
The 39th was also covered by embedded reporter Amy Schlesing of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette for the entire time in Iraq. The definitive work on the 39th Brigade's first deployment to Iraq was published by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. The work entitled The Bowie Brigade, Arkansas National Guard's 39th Infantry Brigade in Iraq was published in 2005 and is a collection of the work of Ms. Schlesing and the embedded writers and photographers who accompanied the brigade: Statnon Breidenthal, Karen E. Segrave, Arron Skinner, Stephen B. Thorton and Michael Woods.
The 39th BCT was relieved in place by the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, on 12 March 2005, which was the same unit that the 39th BCTs, 1–206th Field Artillery had relieved at Camp Taji on 24 March 2004. During the deployment the brigade suffered a total of thirty six killed in action, including soldiers from attached units. Sixteen of those killed in action were members of the Arkansas National Guard. Members of the 39th BCT were awarded three Silver Star Medals, dozens of Bronze Stars and Army Commendation Medals with V device and over 250 Purple Heart Medals. In the March 2005, units of the 39th BCT started their rotation back to Fort Carson, Colorado, Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Sill, Oklahoma for demobilization.
The following units were task organized under the 39th Brigade Combat Team during Operation Iraqi Freedom II
1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment was task organized under 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division during OIF II.
On 24 April 2005, thousands gathered at the front steps of the Arkansas State Capitol to honor the thirty three men who died while serving with the 39th Infantry Brigade in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom II from 2004–2005. The day’s events started with the "39th Brigade Combat Team Fallen Heroes Memorial Ride" where over two thousand motorcyclists rode from the Clear Channel Metroplex in Little Rock to the front of the State Capitol. Chief Warrant Officer Three (CW3) Dennis Bradley of Benton, Arkansas, had the concept for the memorial while the 39th Infantry Brigade was still in Iraq and opened the memorial event. SGT Tammy Holman of Little Rock sang the National Anthem, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by SPC James Carter. Chaplain (COL) David McLemore of Russellville, who served with the 39th in Iraq, offered the opening prayer.
The honored guests for the memorial program were the family members of those who died. Over 100 relatives of the honored soldiers were present. Brigadier General Ron Chastain, who commanded the 39th while in Iraq, Major General Don C. Morrow, the Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard, and Secretary of State Charlie Daniels were the featured speakers for the memorial program. Colonel Mike Ross of North Little Rock served as the master of ceremonies for the memorial event.
Lieutenant Colonel John Edwards of Little Rock, the Staff Judge Advocate of the 39th in Iraq, read a proclamation by Governor Mike Huckabee naming 24 April 2005, "39th Infantry Brigade Fallen Heroes Day." Edwards also read the thirty three names of those who died in Iraq while Command Sergeant Major Larry Isbell, the highest ranking enlisted member of the 39th Infantry Brigade, assisted family members in ringing the bell from the USS Arkansas in a memorial tribute. Jaelun Felder, the eight-year-old son of the late Captain Arthur "Bo" Felder of Lewisville, Arkansas, read a poem entitled "My Father the Hero." Prior to the event, Secretary of State Daniels hosted a reception in the old Supreme Court Chamber in the State Capitol for the family members of the lost soldiers of the 39th.
Upon redeployment in 2005, the 39th Brigade immediately began a major reorganization that transformed the brigade from an enhanced separate brigade (ESB) to an infantry brigade combat team (IBCT) under the United States Army's new Modular Design. This redesign of the army was intended to make the force more easily deployable by making brigades more self contained and less dependent on support organizations at the division level. Major changes for the 39th Brigade included:Transition from a brigadier general to a colonel as Brigade Commander
Deactivation of 3rd Battalion, 153d Infantry Regiment
Deactivation of Troop E, 151st Cavalry Regiment
Deactivation of Battery C, 1st Battalion, 206th Field Artillery Regiment
Activation of 1st Squadron, 151st Cavalry Regiment, with headquarters at Warren, Arkansas
Activation of Special Troops Battalion, 39th IBCT, with headquarters at Conway Arkansas
Activation of four new Forward Support Companies, D, E, F and G under the 39th BSB.
Reorganization of 239th MI Company as Company B, STB, 39th IBCT
Reorganization of 239th Engineer Company as Company A, STB, 39th IBCT
Activation of Company C (Signal), STB, 39th IBCT
Along with this reorganization came a significant re-stationing of several units within the state of Arkansas.
After Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in August 2005, elements of the 39th deployed to New Orleans by C-130s from the Little Rock Air Force Base to support the relief and recovery efforts as part of Operation Katrina. Under tactical control of the Louisiana National Guard, 39th soldiers were given the mission of providing security and food and water to an estimated 20,000 people at the New Orleans Convention Center on 2 September. By the afternoon of 3 September, all individuals staying in and around the Convention Center had been evacuated. The mission of the 39th in Louisiana grew to the point that at one time the brigade was responsible for working with local officials in fourteen parishes. Elements of the 39th and the Arkansas National Guard stayed deployed in Louisiana until February 2006.
In June 2006 the 39th Brigade began deploying troops along the Southwest Border with Mexico as part of Operation Jump Start. The brigade manned two sectors of the border around Lordsburg, New Mexico and near Deming, New Mexico. Unit members occupied observation posts and reported activity along the border to the United States Border Patrol. Various battalions within the 39th Brigade were tasked with supplying volunteer companies during this period. The Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 206th Field Artillery manned the Deming station from December 2006 through June 2007. While serving in Operation Jump Start members of the brigade were able to begin preparing for the brigade's second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The 1st Arkansas Infantry and the 2nd Arkansas Infantry, the parent units of the 153rd Infantry Regiment and the 142nd Field Artillery Regiment, were stationed in these same areas of New Mexico ninety years earlier during General "Black Jack" Pershing's punitive Mexican Expedition against Pancho Villa.
The 39th Brigade Combat Team received an alert for a second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in April 2007., The brigade had been home almost exactly two years since demobilizing after OIF II.
This deployment would be dramatically different from the first. Instead of deploying as a brigade combat team, the brigade was tasked with filling 28 unit requests for forces (URFs). These taskings involved supplying convoy security companies, force protection companies, base defense operations center and garrison command cells. Additionally, instead of an 18-month mobilization, with 12 months actually deployed to Iraq like the first tour, this mobilization would be for a total of 12 months, with approximately 10 months being deployed to the combat theater.
Once again the brigade found itself with a shortage of personnel to fill these taskings. Many of these shortages were caused by unresolved medical issues from the first deployment. This time the Arkansas National Guard decided not to ask for outside support, but met the brigade's need for personnel by task organizing the 217th Brigade Support Battalion from the 142nd Fires Brigade, and three companies from the 87th Troop Command to the 39th Brigade for this deployment.
The brigade was placed on duty in October 2007 to prepare for its second deployment to Iraq while still under state control. It began a 90-day pre-mobilization training period at Chaffee Maneuver Training Center (CMTC)on 1 October 2007. This allowed the unit to perform certain tasks in Arkansas and allowed unit members to be closer to their families for a longer period of time.
The brigade was placed in federal service in January 2008 and trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi until it deployed to Iraq beginning in March 2008.
Upon reaching their final destinations, most of the brigade elements fell under the tactical command (TACON) of Regular Army units, primarily the 4th Infantry Division and the 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). The 39th BCT and its subordinate battalions retained administrative control (ADCON) of all brigade elements.
While deployed in Iraq from April to December 2008, the headquarters of the 39th IBCT assumed the mission as the base defense operations cell (BDOC) for Victory Base Camp (VBC) in Baghdad, Iraq, responsible for the security of over 65,000 coalition soldiers and civilians. With this mission, the BCT headquarters managed and coordinated the security of four subordinate camps and Area Defense Operation Centers (ADOCs), to include: Camp Victory, Camp Striker, Camp Slayer, and Camp Liberty. The BCT headquarters managed entry control and personnel processing at four major entry control points (ECPs) and processed over 2,500 local national workers each day. In addition to internal base security, the BCT managed terrain outside the perimeter in order to better provide defense in depth, as well as improve quality of life for Iraqi population centers adjacent to VBC. These responsibilities also included the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) that was located in the center of VBC. The BCT, in partnership with its subordinate units, coordinated nearly ten million dollars in projects that benefited local Iraqi communities.
During this same time period, the BCT invested over twenty-one million dollars in base defense improvement to VBC, to include improved towers, barriers, fencing, perimeter lighting, road improvement, water projects, and general force protection initiatives. The 39th IBCT was also charged with providing command and control for the Counter-RAM, Joint Intercept Battery, a system used to destroy incoming artillery, rockets and mortar rounds in the air before they hit their ground targets.
For their efforts, the Headquarters, 39th IBCT received the Meritorious Unit Citation (MUC) from the Commander, 4th Infantry Division.
The 39th IBCT's task organization for the BDOC mission was:
Task Force 1–153rd consisted of a Headquarters Company, a Joint Visitor's Bureau Company, a Personal Security Detachment Troop and two Base Defense Companies. The task force was responsible for the force protection and defense of Camp Slayer and the Radwiniya Palace Complex within the Victory Base Camp. The TF 1–153rd searched over 10,000 cars and 35,600 Iraqis to ensure no threats penetrated the perimeter. Soldiers assigned to TF 1–153rd executed 996 combat patrols in the area of operations surrounding Camp Slayer and captured six high-value targets.
TF 2–153rd was stationed in Al Asad Airbase, Iraq and was organized as a convoy security battalion. The battalion provided convoy security to theater sustainment convoys using the Jordan Line of Communications from Trebil to Al Asad and Forward Operating Base TQ. The unit conducted seventy six combat logistical patrols, four to six days in length, driving over 1,587,000 miles. TF 2–153rd experienced one casualty during OIF 09-09 when an escort vehicle was accidentally struck while providing security at an intersection by one of the escorted vehicles.
Task Force 1–151st CAV, based at Tallil Airbase, consisted of over 800 soldiers assigned to six companies/troops/batteries consisting of active and reserve components. TF 1–151st CAV conducted over 700 tactical convoy security missions, without losing a single soldier due to enemy activity. The task force was responsible for long haul fuel mission between Tallil Air Base, Logistical Base Sitz, Taji and Balad Air Base. TF 1–151st CAV suffered one non-combat related casualty when a soldier died while working on a vehicle in the motor pool.
The Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1–206th Field Artillery was assigned to function as the Garrison Command Cell at Camp Taji, Iraq. The 39th Brigade Deputy Commanding Officer, COL Kirk Van Pelt accompanied the 1–206th to Taji and acted as the Garrison Commander. The organic units of the 1–206th FA were attached to various battalions in the 1st Sustainment Brigade as convoy security companies. Batteries A and B and Company G, 39th BSB were tasked to escort convoys of concrete barriers to Baghdad during the Siege of Sadr City. The "Clear, Hold, Build Concept" as it was employed in Sadr City involved cordoning several city blocks by emplacing 12–14-foot-tall (3.7–4.3 m) concrete barriers around the area to be sealed off. These barriers weighed several tons each, so an entire convoy might move only 30–40 barriers. The convoy escort team would escort the civilian trucks hauling the barriers from Camp Taji or Camp Liberty to Sadr City, and then provide security on the site for up to six hours while cranes lifted and emplaced each barrier. These missions often came under small arms fire and the threat of improvised explosive devices was constant. The 1–206th FA suffered no killed in action during this second deployment, although Battery B had one killed in action from an attached Regular Army unit. SGT Jose Ulloa, of 515th Transportation Company was killed on 8 August 2008 went the MRAP that he was riding in was struck by an improvised explosive device during a convoy security mission in Sadr City, Baghdad. SGT Ulloa's platoon was attached to Battery B as a convoy security platoon at the time of his death.
The 39th BCT redeployed to Camp Shelby, Mississippi in December 2008 and demobilized. Unlike the first deployment, the soldiers of the 39th were supported by a massive reintegration effort. Soldiers and their families participated in Yellow Ribbon reintegration events at the thirty-, sixty- and ninety-day post redeployment intervals. The soldiers and their families were provided with lodging at convention centers around the state for these events. The soldiers were presented with information on Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), employment counseling, marriage counseling, Veterans Affairs benefits, post traumatic stress disorder and suicide prevention. Each event included a job fair to assist soldiers in finding employment.Sergeant First Class William W. Labadie Jr. of Bauxite, Age 45. Killed in Action, 4/7/04
Captain Arthur L. Felder of Lewisville, Age 36. Killed in Action, 24 April 2004
Chief Warrant Officer Patrick W. Kordsmeier of North Little Rock, Age 49. Killed in Action, 24 April 2004
Staff Sergeant Billy J. Orton of Carlisle, Age 41. Killed in Action, 24 April 2004
Staff Sergeant Stacey C. Brandon of Hazen, Age 35. Killed in Action, 24 April 2004
Specialist Kenneth Melton of Batesville, Age 30. Killed in Action, 25 April 2004
Staff Sergeant Hesley Box of Nashville, Age 24. Killed in Action, 5/6/04
Sergeant First Class Troy Leon Miranda of Wickes, Age 44. Killed in Action, 20 May 2004
Sergeant Russell L. Collier of Harrison, Age 48. Killed in Action, 10/3/04
Staff Sergeant Christopher S. Potts of Tiverton, RI, age 38. Killed in action, 10/3/04
Sergeant Ronald Wayne Baker of Cabot, Age 34. Killed in Action, 13 October 2004
Sergeant Michael Smith of Camden, Age 24. Killed in Action, 26 November 2004
Corporal Jimmy Buie of Floral, Age 43. Killed in Action, 4 January 2005
Specialist Joshua Marcum of Evening Shade, Age 33. Killed in Action, 4 January 2005
Specialist Jeremy McHalffey of Mabelvale, Age 28. Killed in Action, 4 January 2005
Specialist Lyle Rymer II of Fort Smith, Age 24. Killed in Action, 28 January 2005
Staff Sergeant William Robbins of North Little Rock, Age 31. Killed in Line of Duty, 10 February 2005
Sergeant First Class Anthony Lynn Woodham, Age 37, of Rogers, Ark., Heber Springs, Ark., died 5 July, at Camp Adder, Tallil, Iraq, from non-combat related injuries.
Specialist James M. Clay, Age 25, of Mountain Home, Ark.; Little Rock, Ark.; died 13 November 2008 in Anbar province, Iraq, of injuries sustained in a vehicle accident.
The service of several of the brigade's units has been recognized by unit awards:1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry was awarded a Meritorious Unit Citation (MUC) for the period of 17 March 2004 through 23 March 2005.
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Company C, 3rd Battalion, 153rd Infantry was awarded a Valorous Unit Award (VUA) for the period of 24 March 2004 through 20 January 2005.
1st Battalion, 206th Field Artillery was awarded the Combat Action Battalion, streamer for the period of 17 March 2004 – 14 March 2005.
Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) 39th IBCT was awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation for the period of 1 April 2008 through 1 December 2008.
Meritorious Unit Commendation
The 39th is currently commanded by Colonel Michael Spraggins. COL Spraggins served with the 39th during two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and is a former commander of the 1-206th Field Artillery.
The current Command Sergeant Major is Command Sergeant Major Donald Stane. CSM Stane has served with the 39th during two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and is a former CSM of the 39th BSTB.
The 39th Infantry Brigade (Separate) was authorized a brigadier general for a commanding officer until 2005 when the brigade was reorganized as a modular brigade combat team, at which time the commanding officer's grade was downgraded to colonel.
Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), 39th BCT "Bladerunners"
: Little Rock, Arkansas
1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment "Warrior"
: Malvern, Arkansas
2nd Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment "Gunslinger"
: Searcy, Arkansas
1st Squadron, 151st Cavalry Regiment (RSTA) "Saber"
: Warren, Arkansas (inactivated 7/2/16)
1st Squadron, 134th Cavalry Regiment (RSTA) "-----"
: Lincoln, Nebraska
1st Battalion, 206th Field Artillery Regiment "Aleutian"
: Russellville, Arkansas
39th Brigade Support Battalion "Provider"
: Hazen, Arkansas
39th Brigade Special Troops Battalion "Ready"
: Conway, Arkansas
The unit's shoulder sleeve insignia consists of a Bowie knife over a diamond. The Bowie knife symbolizes the state of Arkansas, where the Bowie knife originated, and close hand-to-hand fighting which is the specialty of the light infantry. The diamond is a reference to a unique aspect of the state of Arkansas which has the only diamond field in North America in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. The red and blue colors are the colors of the Arkansas flag and represent both their loyalty (blue) and the blood (red) that its soldiers have shed for both the state of Arkansas, and the United States in its operations. The brigade motto is "Courage".
The ultimate symbol of the 39th Brigade Combat Team is the Bowie knife that adorns the brigade patch and is worn by certain field grade officers and command sergeants major in the brigade.
The most famous version of the Bowie knife was designed by Jim Bowie and presented to Arkansas blacksmith James Black in the form of a carved wooden model in December 1830. Black produced the knife ordered by Bowie, and at the same time created another based on Bowie's original design but with a sharpened edge on the curved top edge of the blade. Black offered Bowie his choice and Bowie chose the modified version. Knives like that one, with a blade shaped like that of the Bowie knife, but with a pronounced false edge, are today called "Sheffield Bowie" knives, because this blade shape became so popular that cutlery factories in Sheffield, England were mass-producing such knives for export to the U.S. by 1850, usually with a handle made from either hardwood, deer antler, or bone, and sometimes with a guard and other fittings of sterling silver.
Bowie returned, with the Black-made knife, to Texas and was involved in a knife fight with three men who had been hired to kill him. Bowie killed the three would-be assassins with his new knife and the fame of the knife grew. Legend holds that one man was almost decapitated, the second was disemboweled, and the third had his skull split open. Bowie died at the Battle of the Alamo five years later and both he and his knife became more famous. The fate of the original Bowie knife is unknown; however, a knife bearing the engraving "Bowie No. 1" has been acquired by the Historic Arkansas Museum from a Texas collector and has been attributed to Black through scientific analysis.
Black soon did a booming business making and selling these knives out of his shop in Washington, Arkansas. Black continued to refine his technique and improve the quality of the knife as he went. In 1839, shortly after his wife's death, Black was nearly blinded when, while he was in bed with illness, his father-in-law and former partner broke into his home and attacked him with a club, having objected to his daughter having married Black years earlier. Black was no longer able to continue in his trade.
Black's knives were known to be exceedingly tough, yet flexible, and his technique has not been duplicated. Black kept his technique secret and did all of his work behind a leather curtain. Many claim that Black rediscovered the secret of producing true Damascus steel.
In 1870, at the age of 70, Black attempted to pass on his secret to the son of the family that had cared for him in his old age, Daniel Webster Jones. However, Black had been retired for many years and found that he himself had forgotten the secret. Jones would later become Governor of Arkansas.
The birthplace of the Bowie knife is now part of the Old Washington Historic State Park which has over forty restored historical buildings and other facilities including Black's shop. The park is known as "The Colonial Williamsburg of Arkansas". The American Bladesmith Society established the William F. Moran School of Bladesmithing at this site to instruct new apprentices as well as journeyman, and mastersmiths in the art of bladesmithing.
As described in the 39th Anniversary Brigade Annual, published for the 39th Brigade's 39th anniversary celebration in 2006 at the brigade headquarters in Ricks Armory, Little Rock, Arkansas, the Bowie knife has been the individual weapon of senior leaders in the brigade since the creation of the brigade in 1967. Only knives that are procured by order of the brigade commander are authorized for wear or presentation. The handle of the knife is commensurate with the leader's rank:General officers are authorized ivory handles.
Colonels wear knives with stag handles,
Field grade officers and the Aide-de-Camp wear black handles
CW3s and above are authorized walnut handles.
Command sergeants major and sergeants major are authorized the cherry wood handle
Retired master sergeants are authorized cocobolo handles.
The knife is worn on a pistol belt on the bear's left side with the Army Combat Uniform. The brigade Bowie knife has been worn by members through two deployments in support of OIF II.
The knife continues to be produced in Arkansas. Until his death, each presentation-grade knife was handmade by Mr. Jimmy Lile of Russellville, Arkansas. Mr. Lile was also commissioned to make the knives made by Sylvester Stallone in the "Rambo" movies. The Lile family continued to make the "Bowie knife" for the brigade for several years following Mr. Lile's death. Today the brigade's knife is produced by Mr. Kenny Teague of Mountainburg, Arkansas. The general public cannot purchase one of these knives, but can purchase a different style based on the Bowie knife pattern.
Each brigade Bowie knife bears the recipient's name, social security number, rank, and military branch, as well as the maker's name and serial number of the knife.
The stars stand for France, Spain, and the United States, the countries to which the Arkansas Territory belonged. The diamond shape was suggested by the state flag, while the wavy bar symbolizes the Arkansas River with the arrow referring to the Indian name "Arkansa." The Green background alludes to the wooded hills of the Ouachita and Ozark national forest. The arrow in flight is used as a symbol of the brigade defending the state.