The New York National Guard’s 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team dedicated a marble plaque on Saturday in Patriot Square at Camp Phoenix in Kabul, where it has served since last April in command of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VII.
The National Guard’s 372nd birthday on Dec. 13 framed the occasion as the outgoing 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the incoming 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team prepare to hold the official Transfer of Authority on Dec. 19.
“I can’t think of a better way for us to mark the birthday of our service than for two historic commands to meet at an important crossroads while serving the nation from a combat zone,” said Col. Brian K. Balfe, commander of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VII and the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team during a short program inside the Camp Phoenix dining facility following the unveiling of the marble plaque.
“Today we mark the 372nd birthday of America’s National Guard from the opposite side of the world while performing the kind of duty that has always been our hallmark,” he said. “Through our efforts, our example and our service, we are helping to build a nation and the National Guard has been doing exactly that for almost four centuries, when you think about it.
“Citizen soldiers have always defended and then helped build our nation to what it is today. During war, we have always fought from the front and when hostilities have ended we helped support the peace and contribute to reconstruction. We have always seen ourselves as patriots, liberators and servants – never as conquerors or aggressors.”
The program also featured the unveiling of a memorial inside the dining facility as a tribute to the service members who fell in during Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VII, including 8 New York Army National Guard members.
The production and installation of both the plaque and the memorial were overseen by Command Sgt. Maj. David Piwowarski, but the design and finishing work came from several volunteers, including Col. Mike Leonardo, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Sirles, Staff Sgt. Anthony Lechanski, Spec. Ray Ramirez, and Staff Sgt. Linda Nosbisch.
The marble was obtained locally but the computer-generated designs were etched using a laser engraving machine on base. Staff Sgt. Nosbisch later hand-painted the Orion patch and the phoenix on the commemorative plaque mounted in Patriot Square.
“We should all remember this Guard birthday because we are celebrating it here in Afghanistan, together, and in fulfillment of everything the Guard has and continues to stand for,” concluded Col. Balfe. “I am a citizen soldier and am proud to say it.”
Lt. Col. Paul Fanning is submitting photos to accompany this blog in a gallery, "Pictures from the Front." To view the most recent photos, which accompany this blog entry, click here. To view the entire gallery, click here.