CAMP WALKER, Republic of Korea – The change of command ceremony is a military tradition that is rich in symbolism, professionalism and pride. It demonstrates that the unit and its troops are never left without official leadership.
In this time-honored tradition, Brig. Gen. Mark T. Simerly assumed command of 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command during a change of command ceremony on Kelly Field, Camp Walker, Republic of Korea, July 15.
During the ceremony, the outgoing commander Maj. Gen. Michel M. Russell Sr. transferred authority as the commander of the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command to Brig. Gen. Mark T. Simerly making him the 19th commander of the 19th ESC.
Lt. Gen. Michael A. Bills, the Eighth Army Commanding General, oversaw the change of command ceremony and spoke about both outgoing and incoming commanders.
“Today’s change of command ceremony marks the official transfer of responsibility and authority of command of this organization,” said Bills. “More importantly, it offers us an opportunity to recognize Maj. Gen. Russell for his outstanding leadership for the last two years, but also welcomes Brig. Gen. Simerly to our team here in Korea.”
Russell expressed his gratitude and devotion to the 19th ESC in his farewell speech.
“It has been a privilege and an honor. We are truly blessed to have spent 36 months on this Peninsula and 22 of them with Team 19,” said Russell. “I charge you to continue making Eighth Army the most lethal and ready force in support of the ROK-US alliance that you possibly and physically can.”
Simerly has commanded multiple sustainment and support units. He has held key staff assignments and earned many accolades and awards including the Legion of Merit award throughout his career.
“It is my greatest privilege and honor to command this high performing unit,” said Simerly. “I am humbled to serve alongside the great men and women of the 19th ESC to sustain and protect the warriors of Eighth Army. I know you will continue to achieve higher levels of performance and challenge yourselves to improve our support.”
The significance of the day and Simerly’s commitment to continued progression not only lies in the traditional passing of the Colors but in the history of the command itself.
“It is the 55th birthday of the unit known as Team 19,” said Mr. Joseph Lee, community relations director of 19th ESC. “It marks 55 years of support to the United States Army, 55 years of defending the Republic of Korea, and 55 years of strengthening the unwavering ROK-US alliance.”
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