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2nd Bn., 70th Armor Regt. returns to Fort Riley

By Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire | 2ND ABCT PUBLIC AFFAIRS | November 03, 2014

‘Thunderbolts’ join 2nd ABCT

Six years after deactivating, one of the Army’s most decorated units returned to Fort Riley.

A reactivation ceremony Oct. 9 on Custer Hill made it official. The 2nd Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment will be part of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. Previously, it served under the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, at Fort Riley in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The battalion has a rich heritage and was the only combat-ready tank battalion at the time Pearl Harbor was attacked Dec. 7, 1941, according to Col. Miles Brown, commander, 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div.

“As we uncase the colors and welcome the ‘Thunderbolts’ back to the Big Red One, it is important to note that this battalion, this regiment, has been the foundation on which we have built our finest armored combat units and some of our finest leaders have come of age,” Brown said. “As these colors fly, we can feel confident and strong because (this is) the same tank battalion that led the way on Utah Beach, through the Battle of the Bulge, north of the 38th parallel in Korea, liberated Kuwait and spearheaded into Iraq.”

The battalion will become the third combined arms battalion in the “Dagger” brigade, joining the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment and the 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment. It is building combat power to reach full strength ahead of the brigade’s upcoming decisive action rotation at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California.

Lt. Col. Donald Stewart, commander, 2nd Bn., 70th Armor Regt., said the strength of a unit can be seen in the people it’s touched over the years.

“I’ve always said that what makes a unit great are the people associated with it, and the outpouring of support from Thunderbolt veterans has certainly shown this to be true,” he said.

Dozens of veterans who served with the unit during its deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom were in attended the ceremony, and some veterans of the unit still serve, including Maj. Chris Dempsey, executive officer, 2nd ABCT.

“It’s emotional and an overwhelming experience to see these colors that you went to war with, that you cut your teeth with, to see people that you grew up with and matured with. It’s a surreal experience and something that I wouldn’t have missed for the world,” said retired Staff Sgt. Joe Comfort, who deployed with the battalion in 2003 and 2005. “It’s a proud day for this very proud unit. I have absolutely no doubt that they will be the class act of Fort Riley, and it’s great to see them back again.”

Stewart charged his Soldiers with building on that legacy to make their own mark in the unit’s newest chapter.

“Continue to be brave, responsible and on point,” he said. “We have a lot to look forward to in our new history.”