891st gets a new commander

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Register/Bob Johnson
Lt. Col. Barry Manley, right, hands the 891st Engineer Battalion banner to Col. Schmitt, 287th Sustainment Brigade commander, who passed it on to Lt. Col. Roger Murdock, who took command of the 891st Battalion in change-of-command ceremonies Sunday morning in Iola High School’s gymnasium. Behind Manley is Command Sgt. Maj. Ed Boring.

Lt. Col. Roger Murdock, Wichita, took command of the 891st Engineer Battalion in change-of-command ceremonies Sunday morning in Iola High School’s gymnasium. Murdock replaces Lt. Col. Barry Manley, Topeka, who has commanded the battalion the past 44 months.
Murdock said he was “honored and excited to take command of the 891st Engineer Battalion, a unit with a distinguished and proud legacy of providing support to the citizens of Kansas and the nation. The National Guard faces numerous emerging challenges and I am looking forward to the opportunity to lead.”
Col. Robert F. Schmitt, commander of the 287th Sustainment Brigade in Wichita, said he has paid close attention to Manley and Murdock’s careers.
“Lt. Col. Murdock did a superb job (during deployment) in Iraq and he and Lt. Col. Manley are among the smartest officers I have been associated with in the Kansas National Guard,” Schmitt said. “I fully trust his leadership abilities.”
Schmitt said Manley’s record spoke for itself.
“Forty-four months is a long time to be a commander,” Schmitt said. “The reason is his outstanding leadership. When I visited Greensburg (after the 2007 tornado struck and the 891st was deployed there), I found the attitude of the soldiers and their leadership to be outstanding.”
Manley’s next assignment will be as brigade executive officer with the 69th Troop Command in Topeka. Murdock moves to the 891st command position after serving as support operations officer for the 287th Sustainment Brigade.
“Lt. Col. Murdock was my choice,” Manley said.
The change-of-command ceremony was steeped in military etiquette, including assembly of 891st soldiers and color guard.
Cpt. Sean Linn, who recently became battalion administrative officer for all full-time 891st soldiers in southeast Kansas, was moderator for the event. He recalled the history of the National Guard in Iola, noting its federal recognition in 1919 as a cavalry unit.
The 891st Engineer Battalion was formed Feb. 1, 1976 and was fully deployed for a year to Iraq late in 2004.
Some battalion soldiers are in Afghanistan today and deployment is on the horizon for others, said Linn, who has been a Guardsmen since 1987 and stationed in Iola since 1990.