Army shuffle means end of Lawrence unit

Lawrence is losing one of its military units.

The Army Reserve’s 317th Quartermaster Battalion – nicknamed the War Boars – will disband as of Sept. 15.

“The Army is reorganizing,” said Lt. Col. Bettina Moncus, the 317th’s commander.

That reorganization means the Army is putting more emphasis on brigade level units and reorganizing the battalions assigned to them. Some battalions are being disbanded.

The nearly 50 reservists in the 317th will be reassigned to other units, Moncus said.

On Saturday the battalion conducted an inactivation ceremony at the Samuel J. Churchill Army Reserve Center, 2100 Iowa. The unit’s flags were taken down and encased for the final time.

Brig. Gen. George R. Harris, deputy commanding general of the 89th Readiness Command, was the keynote speaker. The 89th oversees Reserve units in the Midwest and is headquartered in Wichita.

Moncus said she had mixed emotions at the ceremony.

“On this particular day the soldiers could not have looked better,” she said. “I cannot tell you how very proud I was and at the same time how sad at the idea of having to say goodbye for the very last time as their battalion commander.”

Several former 317th commanders attended the ceremony. The 312th Army Band, also based at the Reserve Center, provided music.

The 317th has been based in Lawrence since 1974, when it was designated the 317th Supply and Services Battalion. It was last activated in 2004 for a year of duty in Kuwait. The unit’s mission is to keep soldiers supplied with necessities, especially food and water.

The 317th may be the first quartermaster unit in the 89th command to have an all female, four-officer leadership team.

“It’s nice to be the first, but we’re going away so it is bittersweet because of that,” said Sgt. Maj. Alma Ocasio-Santiago, one of the leaders.

Although the battalion doesn’t become inactive until Sept. 15, most of its equipment and supplies have been packed up and little is left at the Reserve Center, Moncus said.

The Reserve Center is still home to the 312th Band, the 824th Quartermaster Battalion, the 346th Military Police Company and the 946th Transportation Detachment.

A platoon of about 20 reservists from the 368th Finance Battalion in Wichita is moving to Lawrence.