Deactivation ceremony marks end of the 1138th Military Police Company in West Plains

WEST PLAINS, Mo. -- Sunday afternoon signified the end of chapter for the Missouri National Guard's 1138th Military Police Company in West Plains.

"Assist, protect, defend. That's the motto of the Military Police," Former 1138th E4 Specialist Tom Grisham said.

And for over 50 years, that's what the men and women of the 1138th Military Police Company have done for West Plains, the state Missouri and the nation.

But Sunday the company's chapter came to a ceremonial end.

"The flag you saw up front was the military police flag, colored the military police. But it was the 1138th's colors on the flag. So it was 1138th marked. And so that particular flag, since we're no longer going to have 1138th Military Police, we're going to case those colors, and we can always bring them back out if they come back, but we're going to case those colors just so we can honor the unit and it's heritage," Brigadier General David Boyle told KY3.

A heritage that former 1138th E5 Sergeant Travis Smith is very familiar with.

"I think I was the youngest male in the company at the time. I was 18 and had my 19th birthday during the first day of the ground war," Smith added.

Time, Smith won't soon forget.

"I have a pretty fond place in my heart for the 1138th. To see it deactivated, I understand but it's a little bit sad," Smith explained.

Former specialist Tom Grisham, who served alongside Smith, hates to see the company go.

"It was emotional. I spent six years of my life in this unit and I just wanted to be here when it closed," Grisham exclaimed.

As the 1138th closes, a new engineering unit will replace it.

It will be the 1142nd Sapper Company.

"We'll be standing them up and bringing them in and recruiting people little by little before then. But the official stand up date will be in September," BG Boyle said.

Eventually, 125 guardsmen will replace the 50 leaving the MP company.

Some of the 1138th's company will transition over to the engineering unit.

Others will find another MP Company to join in the state.

West Plains Mayor Jack Pahlmann says today was bittersweet.

"We've been through a lot together. We've sent them away to the Gulf, we brought them back from the Gulf. As a result, we are one almost. That's the bitter part. But the sweet part is, the engineers will be coming in and we will welcome them with open arms as well. It will be great," Pahlmann added.