It's one thing to say goodbye to people you work with, the relationships and the friendships. It can be emotional, but to leave those who've you've literally been to war with is hard for anyone not in the Army to truly understand. As our Brian Dwyer reports, the man who led Fort Drum's 1st Brigade for the past few years had the nearly impossible task of moving on.
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- The Pageantry of Fort Drum honoring the man who will lead its historic 1st Brigade Combat Team through the drawdown in Afghanistan and beyond.
"The 1st Brigade Combat Team has such a great and wonderful history of service to this nation,” Incoming 1st BCT Commander Frederick O’Donnell said. “Really over the last twelve years, the first conventional forces to go into Afghanistan were from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain. I'm really excited to be a part of that great tradition."
O'Donnell takes the reigns Friday at a ceremony at Magrath Gym on post. Fort Drum is nothing new to the man who not long ago served as a Battalion Commander for the 3rd Brigade.
It’s a chance to add to the legacy of a division near and dear to his heart.
"This patch here, the 10th Mountain Patch, means a lot to me,” O’Donnell said. “I talked a little bit about the tradition and history before. The fact that we have this opportunity to return to it and be a part of it again is something that's really special to all of us."
But with every hello on Fort Drum, first comes a goodbye. Before Colonel O'Donnell got his hands on the 1st Brigade Flag, Colonel Stephen Michael had to take his off it.
A moment and speech after it, that brought tears to his eyes.
"What makes this brigade special is people, relationships and lives,” Michael said. “When you invest in yourself and you get to this point, it's pretty emotional parting."
But before he left, he got out one last call to attention.
"The Army is all about brigade combat teams,” O’Donnell said. “Everything that exists in the Army is really about these soldiers, the mission and the kind of stuff the nation asks of them."
But through it all, Michael said he will sleep well tonight because Colonel O'Donnell is the man watching over what he's leaving behind.