Capt. Simon McKenzie, from Madison Heights, Va., incoming commander of Company B, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, receives the company guidon from Lt. Col. Todd Ratliff, from Holland, Ohio, battalion commander, during a change of command ceremony Feb. 9 at Forward Operating Base Hammer, Iraq.
By Sgt. Natalie Rostek
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Soldiers of Company B, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion bid farewell to their outgoing company commander in a change of command ceremony Feb. 9 at FOB Hammer.
Capt. Jason Nagy, from Charlton, Mass., passed the company guidon to Capt. Simon McKenzie, from Madison Heights, Va., after serving 21 months as company commander.
Before the ceremony, Col. Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., from Prince George’s County, Md., commander of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, spoke to Nagy and his company.
“This is the best signal company commander I have ever worked with in 23 years,” he said of Nagy. “He is probably one of the best five company commanders I have ever served with. He’s that good and it hurts to see him go.”
Nagy has served with the 3rd HBCT for nearly four years. He began his service with the Sledgehammer Brigade operating for two years as the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment’s signal officer. During that time, he deployed with the unit for their 2005 Operation Iraqi Freedom tour.
During Nagy’s time as commander for Company B, 3rd BSTB, he led his Soldiers through the Hammer Focus training event at Fort Benning, Ga., and the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., before deploying a second time in support of OIF.
In his speech, Nagy thanked the officers, noncommissioned officers, and Soldiers who he had served with and learned from.
“Like most commanders, I was eager to provide for the Soldiers in my command, to teach them everything I knew and mold them in the image of me,” he said. “However, like most commanders, I quickly realized that I was the one who was learning from every one of my Soldiers.”
Although she was not present at the ceremony, Nagy saved a special thank you to his wife who has served as the family readiness group leader for Company B since the start of his command.
“Tiffany, you have stood by me through the last 21 months in command,” he said. “Although it seemed that sometimes the company received more of my thoughts and occupied more of my time than you, you still gave me the love and support I needed. I love you dearly and want you to know that today is also a time to recognize the sacrifices that you have made while I was in command.”
Nagy’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Airborne badge.
Nagy is leaving the 3rd HBCT and moving on to serve as a staff officer in the 3rd Infantry Division. He said he regrets that he is unable to redeploy his former Soldiers home to their families, but understands they are in good hands.
“This is how the Army works,” he said. “We change leadership to keep units and ideas fresh and focused. You are in the hands of a fine, capable officer with Captain McKenzie.”
McKenzie accepted the challenge of assuming command of his new company and putting forth 100 percent effort in filling the shoes of the former commander.
“I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to take command of Bravo Company and I look forward to serving the Soldiers of the Sledgehammer Brigade,” he said.
Lt. Col. Todd Ratliff, from Holland, Ohio, feels confident in McKenzie’s ability to command the Soldiers of Company B.
“Simon, I am delighted to have you on the team,” he said. “I know that you will perform exceptional and ensure the voice of the Hammer continues to echo at the division headquarters and beyond.”
Company B, 3rd BSTB is assigned to the 3rd HBCT, 3rd ID, Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March.