The 106th Transportation Battalion has covered a lot of hard ground in its history.
Created during World War II under a different designation, the 106th has long been a key cog in the wheel of the Army’s transportation corps, serving in war and peace on three different continents.
“The crest of the 106th really signifies its accomplishments,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Guerrero. “The black background comes from the German flag after participating in three campaigns in that nation during World War II.”
Guerrero said the five Fleurs-de-lis also show the battalion served five total campaigns in Europe during the war.
“The wings and the wheel are associated with transportation’s rapid and efficient abilities and ‘Primus Inter Pares’ means ‘first among equals,” said Guerrero.
“That all goes back to the 106th being the unit that was known for the most miles driven in Germany during the war.”
The 106th was inactivated in Munich, Germany, in 1946 after the war, but was redesignated and allotted to the Regular Army in 1955. The unit again redesignated in the late 1950s only to be inactivated once again in 1993 in Russelsheim, Germany.
Then the unit was reactivated in 1998 at Fort Campbell and assigned to the 101st Corps Support Group.
The unit was deployed to its first wartime duty since World War II in 2002 to support the efforts of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Elements of the 106th were deployed the following year to Kuwait and then the following year to Iraq, all in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Even now, elements of the 106th are now in Iraq supporting Operation New Dawn and in Afghanistan support OEF.
But, as life often shows us, change is the only constant, particularly in an Army seeking modularity.
“The inactivation of the 106th is part of the Army transformation,” said 106th Transportation Commander Lt. Col. Marc Hamilton. “What’s happening is the functional transportation battalions are going away, and we’re becoming multi-functional.”
Hamilton said Soldiers from the 106th will now fall under the 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, which is part of the 101st Sustainment Brigade.
“With a CSSB, it’s more multi-functional where different logistical functions such as transportation, maintenance, supply and field services will all be a part of it,” said Hamilton. “Those functions technically exist now, it’s just that the headquarters has more capabilities to go ahead and provide oversight in those different logistics functions that are out there.”
Guerrero added that most of the transportation units that are still functional are water terminal units that are specifically port-side or ones who are able to do logistics over the shore, taking supplies from water, transporting them onto shore and them getting them to remote areas.
“In the Army’s big scheme of planning, we have to become more agile, more functional and be able to put a package on the ground and accomplish several different missions instead of one particular mission,” stated Guerrero.
The 106th Transportation has become a place of cross-training, as of late, something that will serve them well once they inactivate and are absorbed into the 129th CSSB.
“Since I took command, we have run the reception support battalion for every returning Brigade Combat Team,” said Hamilton.
“We have had the ‘Welcome Home’ ceremonies at Hangar 3. We provided all the transportation for all Soldiers during their reintegration process, which is roughly 15 thousand Soldiers since last October.”
Hamilton said his battalion has also deployed seven companies in the past year, redeployed four companies, inactivated two companies and are preparing to inactivate two more companies.
“We’ve also run the Supply Support Activity, 305th Quartermaster Company, 584th Maintenance Company, who are both deployed and have accomplished that by taking rear-detachment Soldiers, blended with some civilians to keep those operations running,” Hamilton said. “Also, we just won the FORSCOMs Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Rodeo at Fort Story, Va.”
Hamilton and Guerrero both agreed they’ve had a lot of moving pieces while still doing their functional mission of transportation and other warfighting functions of logistics while the higher headquarters has been deployed.
“Other than those big accomplishments, we’ve also had to manage the day-to-day operations of our battalion, keeping up, at times, with 2,600 Soldiers, not the normal 800 to 900 Soldiers in a battalion,” stated Hamilton. “We’re down to about 1,100 Soldiers now due to deployments, however.”
“We’ve done this without really growing our staff, too” added Guerrero. “Take one Soldier’s efforts and times that by three and that’s the effort we had to get from an individual Soldier to perform their duties.”
After discussing history, accomplishments, missions and daily duties, nostalgia began to kick in with the commanders.
“When I was a 1st Sgt. in Germany, I ended up being deployed to Iraq in 2003 with the 109th Transportation Company,” said Guerrero. “We ended up under the command of the 106th Transportation Battalion, so I’ve been received into the unit and now I’ve been part of receiving others into our unit.”
Guerrero’s respect for the 106th doesn’t just come from his history with the unit.
“It takes a special Soldier to love sustainment and the units that fall under it,” he added. “You’re often some of the first one’s in when you deploy and you’re always the last one’s to leave,” he added.
Hamilton said even though the current chapter on the 106th is closing, the Soldiers of the unit will remain at Fort Campbell.
“We’re not losing any capabilities and our Soldiers aren’t going away,” added Hamilton. “We’re just going to fall under a different headquarters.”
Hamilton said he would never say that the Army wouldn’t reactivate the 106th at some point in the future, but it is highly unlikely that will happen due the Army’s desire for modularity, which the Department of Defense describes as a more effective fighting force.
“Bottom line, it’s our Soldiers that have carried this battalion throughout history and they’re still going to be here performing at a high level, ultimately under the command of the 129th CSSB and the 101st Sustainment Brigade,” he said.
The 106th inactivation ceremony will be held on Aug. 31, but official inactivation will not take place until Sept. 15.
• 106th Transportation
Battalion was first activated April 15, 1943, at Fort Dix, N.J.
• The unit is known for its participation in World War II as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
• The unit is being inactivated officially Sept. 15, and the Soldiers will become part of 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade.