Patriot brigade bids farewell to 'legendary' CSM Ronald Bly at end of deployment ceremony

FORT POLK, La. (KALB) - On Monday, members of the Third Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division held an Uncasing and Change of Responsibility Ceremony at Warrior Field.

Members of the Third Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division holding an Uncasing and Change of Responsibility Ceremony at Warrior Field Monday afternoon. | Image Source: KALB

The uncasing of the colors symbolized the end of the Brigade's 9-month deployment to the Middle East. At the ceremony, Colonel Brian Sullivan, the Brigade Commander spoke about the deployment and recognized the role each battalion played in the mission.

"These are the only command teams in our Army that were on the ground this past December 9th in Iraq on behalf of the world when victory was declared against the Islamic state," said Col. Sullivan from the podium. He paused as the audience applauded.

"The Islamic state is dead," he proclaimed. "It is buried and every time an ISIS fighter attempted to reemerge from the ground it was a Patriot and his partner that reburied them."

Patriot soldiers were spread across Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan assisting with coalition firepower and worked with Iraqi Security Forces to maintain pressure on remaining ISIS elements. They also helped stabilize the country in regions like Mosul, Kirkuk, and Hawija.

"Based on the defeat of ISIS and the relentless pressure that the Iraqi's, assisted by the coalition, were able to maintain, that delivered the most secure national elections since 2003 when Iraq became a free and democratic country," said Col. Sullivan.

Monday's ceremony was also a Change of Responsibility at the brigade bid farewell to Brigade Command Sergeant Major Ronald Bly who is retiring. Command Sergeant Major Kenneth Franco will take over.

"He just loves his country and recognizes that love is an action and like many soldiers, showed that in his service," said Col. Sullivan.

CSM Bly's service with the U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force is well known as well as his numerous deployments and decorations like the soldier's medal, bronze star and purple heart. Col. Sullivan presented CSM Bly and his wife with meritorious service awards before Monday's ceremony. An emotional Col. Sullivan had heartfelt words for the infantryman.

"For all you soldiers, if you think you've done enough, take your enlisted record brief and compare it to his and you keep moving," said Col. Sullivan. "And if you exploit the opportunity, do it over and over again you establish a legacy and you become a legend and we have had a legend as our brigade Command Sergeant Major."

"He does that all the time to me, I think he just likes to see me tear up but that's okay," said CSM Bly. "It's been a long road but it's been a good road." CSM Bly thanked the group gathered around him and joked that he would try not to get emotional during his speech but if anyone had a problem with it "there's the parking lot," he laughed.

At the podium, CSM ended his remarks by saying he was surprised at how hard saying goodbye was. "Instead of prolonging that moment I'm just going to smile and say nothing is forever except friendship. So to all my friends, good luck and God bless. Patriot 7, off the net."

Col. Sullivan also reminded the audience that one Patriot, Specialist Alexander Missildine, did not return with the brigade from deployment.

“We had wished to bring everybody home but our thoughts and prayers remain with Alex Missildine and his family,” Colonel Sullivan said. “His memory continues to sustain us and we are committed to being there for his family into perpetuity.”

Colonel Sullivan added that later this month, the Brigade looks forward to welcoming back the soldier who was injured in the IED blast that killed Specialist Missildine last year.

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