CAMP SMTH TRAINING SITE, NY (08/01/2014)(readMedia)-- Colonel David Martinez, a veteran of the Iraq War, formally takes command of the New York Army National Guard's historic 369th Sustainment Brigade here on Sunday morning.
As an all-black unit during World War I the unit, then known as the 369th Infantry Regiment, was nicknamed the Harlem Hell Fighters and famous for the number of medals its Soldiers earned fighting with the French Army. The brigade is headquartered at the historic 5th Avenue Armory in Harlem and has elements located throughout the Hudson Valley.
The unit headquarters is being temporarily relocated to Camp Smith while their home armory is being renovated.
WHO: Col. David Martinez, the commander of the 369th Sustainment Brigade, Lt. Col. James Gonyo, the deputy commander of the 369th Sustainment Brigade and acting commander, and Brig. Gen. Michael Swezey, the commander of the 53rd Troop Command.
WHAT: A traditional military change-of-command ceremony in which the colors, or flag, of the brigade is transferred from Gonyo to Martinez by the 53rd Troop Command commander, signifying the change of responsibility and authority for the brigade from one commander to another. Traditionally the unit's color's marked the location of the commander on the battlefield and the ceremony allowed the Soldiers to know who their commander was. Martinez has been leading the unit for several months, but this is the first opportunity to have a formal change of command ceremony.
WHEN: 11 a.m. Sunday, August 3, 2014
WHERE: Camp Smith Training Site, Routes 202 and 6, Cortlandt Manor, NY
Members of the media seeking access to this secure military facility must contact Lt. Col. James Gonyo at 914-262-1690
Reporters will have the opportunity to interview Col. Dave Martinez, the commander of the 369th Sustainment Brigade, as well as other New York Army National Guard leaders and shoot video of the Change of Command Ceremony.
Colonel Dave Martinez
Martinez was commissioned through the University at Albany Reserve Officer Training Corps program in 1984 and has served in a number of positions in the New York Army National Guard. These include a headquarters company commander, rear area security officer, battalion maintenance officer, executive officer, intelligence officer, operations officer, and division intelligence officer. He has also held a number of positions at National Guard headquarters.
He is a qualified ordnance and military intelligence officer.
In 2005 Martinez deployed to Tikrit, Iraq as commander of the 642nd Military Intelligence Battalion in support of the 42nd Infantry Division.
Martinez is a full-time employee of the New York Army National Guard who is responsible for operations and training of all New York Army National Guard elements across New York, and was formerly the head of the New York National Guard's domestic operations section.
Martinez holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University at Albany and a master's degree in public administration from Marist College. He is a graduate of the Army War College, where he earned a master's degree in national security studies, and the Army Command and General Staff College as well as the Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course and the Ordnance Officer Advanced Course.
His awards include the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Combat Action Badge and the Air Assault Badge.
He and his wife Paula, who is a member of the Army Reserve, have two adult sons.
369th Sustainment Brigade
The 369th Sustainment Brigade was originally organized as the 15th Regiment of the New York National Guard in 1915 as a unit for African American Soldiers in a segregated Army. When the 15th New York was federalized in 1917 and sent to France the unit was renumbered as the 369th Infantry Regiment.
Because of racism in the Army the Soldiers were initially used as logistics troops , unloading American ships coming into French ports. But the French Army had no objection to black Soldiers, so the unit was given French weapons and allocated to the French Army to fight.
The 369th, which is the subject of the recent Max Brooks graphic Novel "The Harlem Hell Fighters" served more than six months on the front lines during World War I, sustained 1,500 casualties, and its soldiers received 171 Legion of Honor or Croix de Guerre awards from the French government.
Albany native Henry Johnson who became famous for defeating a German patrol during an engagement in May 1918, was a member of the 369th. The unit's band – made up of professional African-American musicians – is also famous for introducing American jazz music to Europe.
The 369th, which was once commanded by Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis, the Army's first black general officer, served in the Pacific in World War II and was mobilized for deployment to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991.
Soldiers from the 369th Sustainment Brigade have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and been involved in several recent joint exercises in Africa. During the state response to Superstorm Sandy in November 2012 the 369th Sustainment Brigade played a key role in delivering relief supplies across New York City.
The brigade's job is to coordinate the delivery of supplies to a division-sized combat force.