LTC Camarano, thank you for your remarks, and COL Van Zandt, thank you for your presence at this event. I’m really grateful that both of you chose to oversee this company change of command instead of taking the opportunity to celebrate Christmas on an island in the Bahamas. To the Soldiers of Dark Horse Company, you are standing tall and looking good. 1SG Mendoza, you done ‘em proud. For twenty-two months you all have stood behind me, and I am proud to see you standing in front of me one last time.
Twenty-two months is a long time to command a logistics company. When I took on this position, I thought I knew some things about the Army. I knew some things about leadership and productivity and group dynamics. But in twenty-two months, I have seen some things…! I have learned a lot, and I have grown a lot, but the thing I want to impress on you in the few minutes that I have is what a privilege it is to stand in front of a guidon blazoned black and white.
I’ve talked about this before, but “Dark Horse” is probably the best possible name for an Army Logistics Company. A dark horse is the horse in the race that nobody even expects to show. He holds off in the back; and then suddenly he surprises everyone by breaking out and taking the lead. Logistics is a draft horse, made for heavy lifting, not for speed. We conduct operations in a tactical environment, constantly divided between two different levels of planning.
So for twenty-two months, I have watched this company. We start out behind – in everything – trying to do a hundred things at once, and we build capacity. Get that dark horse running; he doesn’t know to stop. A million gallons of fuel; 700,000 rounds of ammunition, 10,000 rockets… what’s a few hundred annual services ahead of schedule? Need us to cook a meal that can stop a general in the middle of an inspection? How many vehicles can one wrecker recover?
Now, you can’t do everything, and it’s unfortunate that even the best forward support company in the world can’t execute every mission perfectly. We may not have been a first time go at every training event. And more importantly, yesterday’s accomplishments do not make tomorrow’s results. You write down your achievements, and they all go away.
That’s pretty disappointing to me, because I like to build things and make them better than they were. And when you get a new mission that looks an awful lot like the old mission, there’s only one thing that can be developed and remain, and that’s people. So when you’re stuck with a situation where you think you can’t do everything, and you have to decide where to invest your time, invest in people.
I’m looking at this formation, and I see a lot of sergeants who used to be specialists, and at least one sergeant that I distinctly remember as a PFC. I see a lot of specialists that are just about ready to get that promotable P. You’ve seen us do it right, and remembered to do it right the next time. And you’ve seen us do it wrong, and remembered to never do it that way again.
It’s been a great privilege working with you all, working to develop you and watching you grow. It would be a mistake to try to start dropping names of all the people who have come to the unit, achieved great things, and then moved on to achieve great things in some other unit. I’ve seen eight platoon leaders, seven platoon sergeants, and four first sergeants, and each one has taught me something about the Army and about leadership. Sometimes, it was things I didn’t want to learn.
But there are four people I need to mention by name, because they taught me some very specific things:
• COL Baker, who taught me that you can accomplish more than you ever thought you would, if you just look your unit in the eye and demand impossible things. You might not achieve everything, but you will achieve so much more than if you accept that it can’t be done.
• LTC Cook, who taught me that, if you look far enough ahead, you can achieve incredible things, and also manage to dot every “i” and cross every. single. “t.”
• First Sergeant Lopez, who taught me that you can do nothing in the Army, without the support of a solid, capable, and trusted NCO Corps to manage every step of the process. Top, I saw you bring together people who might not have wanted to be brought together, hand them a problem, and walk them through to a method for success. You showed me how good the NCO Corps can be. Thank you.
• And finally, LT Taylor who had the… privilege… of showing me what it looks like when you get handed every job to do yourself.
Dark Horse Company, it has been a privilege to know each one of you; it has been a privilege to suffer with you; and it has been a privilege to stand in front of you and receive the praise that you have earned. I am proud of your achievements, and I am proud of your endurance and drive. You’ve worked hard, and you came out ahead. CPT Fraser, you’ll be leading the best.
This is Dark Horse 6, signing off the net. Do all of the things. Dark Horse. Attack!