The Last Lrs: Leaving A Legacy Behind

Soldiers of Company E, 134th Infantry (Long Range Surveillance), Nebraska Army National Guard, cased their colors during an Aug. 12 inactivation ceremony held at the Titan Readiness Center in Yutan, Nebraska.

The unit, which was first activated in 1985 as part of the 1-167th Cavalry, became the last Army National Guard long range surveillance unit in existence prior to the inactivation order dated Sept. 30 this year.

"It's sad and disappointing," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Ames, who served with the LRS for 13 years including two deployments to Bosnia and Iraq. "I think it's a valuable asset and the experience that these Soldiers have. I think it is disappointing that they're not keeping that history and tradition alive."

As a long range surveillance company, the Nebraska Soldiers' mission was to provide intelligence from behind enemy lines. During the course of its 15-year history, the LRS deployed to Kuwait, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan in various peacekeeping missions. The LRS has also took part in relief and recovery missions in the wake of hurricanes, floods and tornadoes stateside.

Due to changing operational demands, the Army made the decision two years ago to end the LRS force structure and in 2017, the three active Army LRS units were deactivated along with the seven Army National Guard units spread across the United States.

Capt. Travis Wahlmeier, Nebraska LRS commander, has been with the unit for over eight years. He began his Officer Candidate School in Nebraska with the intent of joining the LRS after having served six years in the Kansas National Guard.

Wahlmeier said there were mixed emotions among his Soldiers as the unit's colors were furled, ending decades of history.

"We're just disappointed the Army doesn't see the need for it right now," he said.

Wahlmeier said there was something special about being the last commander of a unit that went 100 percent to the end. The day before the unit casing ceremony, the unit hosted a family day to witness the unit's last airborne jump. A month before that, the unit conducted annual training in the mountains of Montana.

"Knowing that I got to be a part of this particular unit and even looking back to the history of the LRS, back to the guys who started that force structure in Vietnam, it's just a good feeling to be a part of that group," Wahlmeier said.

During the inactivation ceremony, Col. Eric Teegerstrom, 92nd Troop commander, acknowledged the emotions that the unit's inactivation brought.

"It's a sad day for many of the folks here," Teegerstrom said. "The LRS has been a very proud part of the Nebraska National Guard for many years."

Teegerstrom added that he gained significant appreciation for the unit's capabilities and the skills of its Soldiers while serving as the cavalry squadron's executive officer during the 2005-07 deployment to Iraq.

"Despite having been a Cav guy for pretty much my entire career, the spirit and professionalism that the LRS showed, always outshined that of any of the other units in the squadron," he said. "That has been the hallmark of the LRS for as long as I can remember."

He urged the Soldiers of the unit to take the skills and the attitudes they learned in the LRS and apply them to their next assignments.

"(Even though the LRS is being inactivated) that fighting spirit, that professionalism that resides in each one of you. That's what carries on."

Wahlmeier said that what made LRS become such a highly recognized and respected organization was not the mission, but rather the Soldiers that committed themselves to overcoming whatever challenges they faced.

"What has always made this unit the best was never really about the mission, but it has always been about the men and their mindset," he told the assembled Soldiers.

"The men in the company are judged by their performance and their dedication to the unit. These men have a great sense of pride which comes from being a part of a special elite group. Be proud and remember that you are and always will be a member of the LRS."

(Nebraska National Guard Article by Staff Sgt. Talley)

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