Change of Command for First Brigade

It was a sad day for soldiers at Fort Stewart. The last of the brigade commanders who led the troops into war with Iraq is leaving. WTOC spoke with Col. Wil Grimsley today as he said goodbye to the troops and to the Coastal Empire.

In some ways, Col. Grimsley's march across Cottrell Field today was his hardest yet. After commanding 1st Brigade in war, he handed over the reins. "Memories are of the incredible warmth and welcome you get when you walk into this side of the world," he told us.

Last year, his Raiders led the charge through Iraq and into Baghdad. Gen. William Webster reminded today's crowd he'd predicted the brigade could take Saddam Airport overnight.

The victories are still fresh on Grimsley's mind. He recalled, "Realizing we were there and the entire coalition force was going to follow us on that bridge. Busting through the runway at the airport the morning of the fourth of April. Being in the presidential palaces and the waves of cheering people thanking you and the welcome home."

As the soldiers train for a return to Iraq, the colonel says the brigade will make the division proud. "These guys know how to fight," he said. "I could fall off the face of the earth today and this unit would continue to fight."

Grimsley says he may leave the Third Infantry, but it will never leave him. Grimsley begins work Monday at the Pentagon's joint staff within the systems directorate. He's replaced by Col. Mark McKnight.

Reported by: Dal Cannady,