DEARBORN - Today, Veterans Day, Americans everywhere are again honoring the men and women who have served our country with distinction. Here is the story of one such group.
In July 2013, the United States Army’s Team Mustang returned home from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan. Initially consisting of just 10 members, the advisory team was formed in late 2011 with personnel from across Texas to provide assistance to the home-grown security forces in Afghanistan.
Led by Lt. Col. William Phillips, team members had a variety of skills and backgrounds. Phillips was chosen to command the new team based on his experience during a previous deployment to the region.
“We were given permission to come up with our own call sign, which is used for identification during communications in the field,” said the lieutenant colonel. “Another team member and I are both Ford Mustang owners, and as a group we chose Mustang as our call sign.
“We chose the name in part because the horse is small, tough, fast and agile, and that describes our team as well.”
With the name selected, the team needed a logo, and the design they created integrates the galloping pony badge that appears on every Ford Mustang. Phillips reached out to Ford product licensing manager Mark Bentley to request permission to use the trademarked badge that has appeared on the iconic sports car in various forms for almost 50 years.
“When Lt. Col. Phillips contacted me to request permission to use the pony as part of his team’s logo, there was never any question that we would say yes,” said Bentley. “Ford has been a longtime supporter of the men and women who serve our country.
“Over the years, Ford has donated more than $8 million to veterans organizations, such as the Wounded Warrior Project, and we were honored to lend our Mustang logo to the U.S. Army.”
The Team Mustang logo was used on T-shirts for the squad and Phillips also had some commemorative coins minted that were given to team members and other personnel during deployment. The reverse side of the coins features a message in Dari script that translates to “Friends and Brothers.” Dari is a Persian dialect that is one of the two main languages spoken in Afghanistan, along with Pashto.
When the U.S. team arrived in Afghanistan in mid-2012, they partnered with another smaller team from Australia, working together throughout their deployment. They soon learned that an earlier Task Force Mustang had returned home but was still active in the system, so they would have to change their radio call sign. Thanks to their newfound partnership with the Australians, the team adopted the name Brumby for the wild Australian horse that is very similar to Mustang.
After nine months of service in Afghanistan, the American members of the team have all returned safely to their homes and they stay in touch with each other. Phillips celebrated his return with a new 2013 Ford Mustang GT with the Mustang Club of America upgrade package.
Ford Motor Company thanks Lt. Col. Phillips and Team Brumby/Mustang for their service this November 11.
Letters from home at the Team Mustang headquarters in Afghanistan.
The Team Mustang commemorative coin.