News: Neillsville - Armory Upgraded (2015)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Cobosco, Mabie, Meyer, Titus, Wittke, Gavilan

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 3/18/2015

Neillsville Armory Upgraded Through Reflagging Process (2015)

Neillsville Armory Admin. CEO Sgt. Aaron Cobosco reviews a vehicle transportation plan with Equipment NCO Sgt. Meyer (right) and PFC Titus, an Army National Guard Truck Driver. Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press

By Todd Schmidt

The Neillsville National Guard Armory is focusing its mission through aa statewide reorganization process canned reflagging.

Admin NCO Sgt. Aaron Cobosco said last week he had met with Neillsville Mayor Steve Mabie in February to explain the changes in the local Guard operation. Cobosco said the Guard hopes to become more involved in the community and is now willing to host approved civic events.

Neillsville soldiers volunteered their time recently at the local Polar Bear Plunge. Activities with the local Boy Scouts, including hosting meetings, are now in the works. In the past, the Armory was used during certain hours as a training facility for local police departments.

Neillsville formerly was a Headquarters (HQ) unit with a detachment, as was the Eau Claire unit. The two have now been consolidated at Neillsville as the H Company, 132nd BSB (Brigade Support Battalion). It is a downsizing of sorts, with a reduction of approximately 70 soldiers in the new unit.

Cobosco said the Wisconsin Army National Guard is comprised of 7,500 soldiers. There about 700 soldiers in the 128th Infantry Unit, which the H Company 132nd BSB supports with about 100 local troops.

“It is not really a big change, because our end goals are the same,” said Cobosco, who has been with the National Guard for five years and five months. He served on active Guard duty and then moved on as a mechanic with the Mauston and Eau Claire units. In January 2015, Cobosco was appointed as Admin. NCO in Neillsville.

Guardsmen now drill out of Neillsville one weekend per month and two weeks out of the year. They participated in an intensive three-day training session at Ft. McCoy March 6 to March 8.

Sgt. Meyer and PFC Titus worked diligently to organize the dispatching of vehicles, including maintenance and repair control.

The Neillsville Armory is now staffed with three fulltime personnel, Sgt. Cobosco, Sgt. Wittke and Staff Sgt.. Gavilan.

“Depending upon our deployment missions, our staffing is adjusted accordingly,” Cobosco said. “We get our changes from big Army. Some of this is decided years in advance. Otherwise, the timetable for reorganization is determined by the needs of the Army.”

For example, Neillsville used to be part of Fox Company, which was created in 2005. Soldiers were deployed to Iraq, serving roles in infantry, artillery and military police. They were then reattached to the home company.

Cobosco said the former area 32nd Infantry Division Red Arrow Brigade holds the record for consecutive combat days, serving 654 days in the Pacific Theater during WWII. The French Army dubbed them “Les Terribles,” because they punched through every enemy line they encountered during deployment in WWI.

Equipment now housed at the Neillsville Armory includes transportation and maintenance contact vehicles, plus small arms and machine guns.

“We are excited about our reflagging,” Cobosco said. “It is like starting with a fresh unit. We can build a fully functional unit exactly how leadership needs it to be, without any old habits. Soldiers take pride in the unit. They are part of building something special.”

Cobosco said the morale of the soldiers in the unit is at a high level. They are going into a training year and are not available for deployment as they prepare for future deployment. That is one reason they are seeking a more active role in the community.

“Our first mission is our state and local mission,” Cobosco said. “We are available to assist with various emergencies. We want to make sure people are comfortable with us, and that it is OK to come here.”

They are proud of the Neillsville Armory’s local presence through history, much of it chronicled in the “Images of America-Clark County.”

The original Neillsville Armory was built downtown in 1892. The facility quickly became a multipurpose community building, serving as a base for the local Guard unit, as the Neillsville Opera House, and as an auditorium for high school plays, dances, basketball games, graduation exercises and other civic cultural events.

The Armory hosted many town meetings, including a session in December 1917 to raise money for war bonds.

The Armory was torn down in the 1990s to make way for improvements to the Neillsville Library. The new Armory was built on 18th Street on the north side of the city.

The Neillsville Armory has been reflagged as the H Company, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion, in consolidation with the Eau Claire Armory. There are now approximately 100 soldiers stationed with the unit out of Neillsville. Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press




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