Thursday, January 24, 2008

MI Company Bids Farewell to Outgoing Commander

Left to right, Capt. Joan Hollein, incoming commander of Company A, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion; Lt. Col. Todd Ratliff, from Holland, Ohio, battalion commander, and Capt. Lee Gerber, from Miami, Fla., outgoing commander, present arms during the National Anthem during a Change of Command ceremony, Jan. 19, at Forward Operating Base Hammer, Iraq.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Soldiers from Company A, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, bid farewell to their outgoing company commander in a ceremony, Jan. 19, at Forward Operating Base Hammer.

Capt. Lee Gerber, from Miami, Fla., passed the company guidon to Capt. Joan Hollein after serving 20 months as commander of Company A.

Before the ceremony, Col. Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., from Prince George’s County, Md., commander of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, spoke to Gerber and his company.

“Capt. Gerber established this company and he did an exceptional job,” Grigsby said. “This is a quiet and humble organization and you are doing a great job. Capt. Gerber gets a pat on the back for doing an outstanding job and because of what you as a company have done.”

During his tenure, Gerber led his company through the National Training Center rotation in Fort Irwin, Calif. He also deployed his troops and conducted combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom V.

“I have truly learned something everyday from the outstanding Soldiers and noncommissioned officers of Alpha Company,” Gerber said. “I would like to believe that the company is better now than when I took command.

Prior to taking command of the company, Gerber spent 27 months as the intelligence officer for 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, during which time he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III.

Gerber’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Air Assault Badge.

Although Gerber is leaving Company A to serve with the Georgian Army Liaison team at Combat Outpost Cleary, his wife Melissa will continue her service as the Company A, 3rd BSTB Family Readiness Group leader until the 3rd HBCT redeploys to Fort Benning, Ga.

During the ceremony, Lt. Col. Todd Ratliff, Holland, Ohio, commander of the 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, gave a speech wishing well to the outgoing commander and welcoming the incoming.

“Even though she has been with the brigade less than two months, Capt. Hollian is a perfect fit for this company,” Ratliff said. “Alpha Company, I will tell you that your new commander is up for the challenge of day-to-day operations here in Iraq as well as on Kelley Hill. Here is an officer that will continue to set and achieve the highest standards. Joan, I am delighted to have you on board and a part of the Buffalo battalion.”

The 3rd BSTB is assigned to the 3rd HBCT, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007.

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