Thursday, October 5, 2006

MDW engineer company redesignated as 911th

What’s in a name?

Two weeks ago U.S. Army Military District of Washington Adjutant General Richard Miller signed Permanent Order 261-001 redesignating the MDW Engineer Company the 911th United States Army Technical Rescue Engineer Company.

The Sept. 18 order comes as an exception to policy, permitting the TDA company to carry a numeric designation.

Normally, only Table of Organization and Equipment organizations are authorized numeric designations. And the number was already assigned for an engineer company within the Tennessee National Guard.

Maj. Gen. Guy C. Swan, commander of MDW, sought the designation for the engineer unit, a company within the 12th Aviation Battalion, in a June memorandum to the Center for Military History.

“We need an identity for this great unit that reflects the national importance of its mission,” Swan added in a handwritten note when signing the request, which noted the significance of the number “911” to the unit.

Supporting “the most senior leadership” of the government and the only technical rescue engineer company in the Army, “it was one of the first rescue units to respond during the attack on the Pentagon on 9⁄11 and spent over 14 days conducting operations in the collapsed areas of the Pentagon.”

Swan added that the unit “would again provide this essential support” should any similar tragedy befall. The name change “would stand in recognition and honor for those individuals in the past, present, or future that have, are, or may work in this distinguished organization.”

Col. Steward Remaly, commander of the Army Air Operations Group, and intermediate in the chain of command that goes from Swan through the AOG and the 12th Aviation Battalion to the engineers, sought the support of the Tennessee National Guard in securing the designation. The 911th Engineer Company designation was allotted back in 1973, but had not been used.

Release of the designation to Department of the Army control was done simply — by e-mail from the state’s adjutant general, Lt. Col. Robert C. Covert.

As a TDA unit, the company will not be entitled to accrue Lineage and Honors Certificates, Richard G. Davis, chief of CMH’s Field Programs and Historical Services Division made clear.

But with the UIC unchanged, it “will still be entitled to display the Army Superior Unit Award earned for its service in relation to the events surrounding September 11th, 2001,” Davis wrote.