The 195th prepares for its end Army Reserve unit to become inactive

November 05, 1993|By Bill Talbott | Bill Talbott,Staff Writer

Though its home and mission have changed over the years, "the 195th" has served honorably as a unit of the U.S. Army or Active Reserve for more than 50 years.

The 195th, which is to be inactivated at Westminster tomorrow, was born in July 1942 at Fort Jackson, S.C. As the 195th Ordnance Company, it was sent to Germany during World War II and remained there until October 1945.

During the period from 1945 to 1959, the unit served in active reserve or reserve status until it was once again activated in June 1959.

In May 1979, the unit was redesignated the 195th Maintenance Company, a heavy equipment general support unit, and served with distinction under both the 97th Army Reserve Command and the 310th Theater Army Area Command.

Brig. Gen. Earl B. Burch, deputy commander of the 310th Theater Army Area Command, will conduct the official inactivation and "boxing of the colors" at 10 a.m. during a ceremony at the unit's headquarters on Malcolm Drive.

The 195th, described as a "small hometown unit" by its commander, Capt. Denise Verret-Masters, displays three streamers from the company's identification flag, or guidon, for distinguished service during World War II and the Korean conflict.

About 220 soldiers were attached to the 195th Maintenance Company, known as "Westminster's Own" for the number of soldiers from the area. Many of them followed in the footsteps of a father or older brother in joining the reserve unit.

During World War II the unit served in Normandy, Northern France, the Ardennes-Alsace and Rhineland, with its activities culminating in central Europe.

The 195th received a Meritorious Unit Commendation for the Europe an Theater, a similar Meritorious Unit Commendation for the Korean conflict and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.

These streamers, attached to the unit's guidon, will be boxed and retired to the Department of the Army Headquarters after the ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Captain Verret-Masters said the 195th was placed on a premobilization alert during Operation Desert Storm but was not called. About 20 soldiers from the unit, who have military specialties, were attached to other fighting or service units.

Captain Verret-Masters said several of the old-timers, who served with the 195th for many years, have recently retired from the reserves and many others will be transferred to other nearby units or to the National Guard. She said the service always "protects its own."

Two of the retirees, called by comrades a "pair of bookends" because they worked so closely together for many years, are Chief Warrant Officer 4 Robert Keefer and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bill McCusker.

Together the men, both from Westminster, served more than 70 years in the active military or the reserves.

Also participating in the inactivation ceremony will be the group commander, Col. Michael Wermuth, and Lt. Col. Curtis Smith, commander of the 275th Supply and Service Battalion.

Though the 195th will no longer occupy the armory on Malcolm Drive, the building will be maintained by the reserves. Officials expect to form three functioning automotive and tracked-vehicle maintenance platoons, a detachment of the 1007th Maintenance Company that now has its headquarters in Hagerstown.

The new platoons, with a cadre of about 80 soldiers, could be activated by next September, if the money is approved by the Army.

During the inactivation ceremony, many of the soldiers will receive commendations and awards for their time in service and for other activities, their captain said.

Captain Verret-Masters, who has been in the service since 1973 and whose husband is on active duty and assigned at the Pentagon, said she will miss coming from her home in Bowie to Westminster, her favorite area of Maryland.

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