FB HQ Bn. commander says farewell to Belvoir
July 11, 2014
Fort Belvoir, Va. (July 10, 2014) - When Lt. Col. Brian P. Zarchin participates in his change of command at Fort Belvoir July 11, it will be the culmination of more than 21 years of service to his country that was defined by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
Originally from Montgomery County, Md., Zarchin, his wife and three children, are ready to move on.
"It is the right time for my Family and me," explained Zarchin. "We originally planned on serving out my active duty service obligation after flight school. My intent was to come in and serve. I always wanted to fly armed aircraft."
But that all changed when 9/11 happened. Zarchin was serving at the 12th Aviation Battalion, Davison Army Airfield - the airfield that responded to the Pentagon to support the rescue and recovery efforts there.
"When I was at a decision point to get out, 9/11 happened. While I was interviewing for civilian jobs pre-9/11, I was already not feeling very passionate about anything out there. 9/11 provided me with a renewed call to continue to serve," he said.
Zarchin, then a flight officer, and fellow members of the 12th Avn. Bn. were on standby that day when they were called to respond to the Pentagon. They were in charge of transferring remains recovered from the Pentagon. The days following the attacks will forever be burned in his brain.
"That unit was in charge of ensuring that the transfer happened. In my case, and in the case of most of the folks over there, we were physically loading the remains onto Chinook helicopters.
The sights and the smells of that experience, loading the remains, flying them up to Dover, and being at the Pentagon on 9/11, served as a very strong call. It reignited my passion for continuing to serve in the military."
Zarchin's career included many varied assignments.
After being commissioned in the Aviation Branch, Zarchin attended and completed Initial Entry Rotary Wing Training and the Aviation Officer Basic Course at Fort Rucker, Ala. In May 1994, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion (Attack), 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. There he served as an Aeroscout platoon leader, Class III-V support platoon leader and assistant S-3. In 1997 Zarchin graduated from the Aviation Officer Advanced Course and later in 1998 completed the OH-58D(I) Kiowa Warrior Aircraft Qualification Course at Fort Rucker. He was then assigned to the 1st Battalion (Attack), 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y. There, he commanded Charlie Company from November 1998 to December 2000 and deployed the with "Diamondbacks" to Bosnia-Herzegovina for eight months in support of Operation Joint Forge (SFOR-6). Following command, Zarchin served as the flight operations officer at the Military District of Washington's 12th Aviation Battalion, Fort Belvoir, Va. from January 2001 to April 2002.
From April 2002 to April 2004, Zarchin served as a selection board recorder, Department of the Army Secretariat, U.S. Army Human Resources Command. In June 2004, he attended Command and Staff College at the Marine Corps University, Quantico, Va. and graduated in June 2005 with a master's degree in Military Studies. Following CSC, he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as an aviation planner with the Headquarters, XVIII Airborne Corps/Multi-National Corps - Iraq (MNC-I) in Baghdad, Iraq. In November 2005, he redeployed to Fort Bragg, N.C., and later assumed duties as the executive officer for the 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. From July 2006 to July 2007, Zarchin served as an Air Cavalry Task Force executive officer in Tal Afar and Mosul, Iraq. Upon redeployment, he served as 1-17's S-3 and later the 82nd Aviation Brigade's S-3 until August 2008. After serving with the 82nd Airborne Division, he was assigned as an HRC Aviation Major's assignments officer and Aviation Colonel's human resource manager in the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army's Senior Leader Development office.
Command Sgt. Maj. Carolyn Reynolds, who has worked alongside Zarchin for the past two years and is retiring after the July 11 Change of Command and Change of Charter Ceremony for Headquarters Battalion. She said she stayed in the Army longer upon meeting Zarchin.
"I would have retired two years ago had I not met Lt. Col. Zarchin," she said. "I felt like this is a person I want to work for. I would like to go out of the military having him as my commander, and leaving on a high note."
The pair accomplished many things in their short time together, according to U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Belvoir's former commander Col. Gregory D. Gadson.
"In quotations, I really like to call headquarters battalion the 'special teams,' they've been the special teams of the Garrison. We've been able to give them some significant efforts that none of our directorates were really designed to do," he said.
When Zarchin took charge of headquarters battalion, it did not have a permanent home. Through his efforts, the battalion was able to establish its base of operations on Abbott Road.
"They have taken the ball and just run with it," Gadson said. "They've done a phenomenal job. They've been selfless, and I just appreciate their enthusiasm. They will leave their mark on this garrison, this installation, because of their efforts."
Gadson notes the Ready and Resilient Campaign, Community Health Program and Character Counts program as examples of the battalion's successes.
"It's a great message and I think it's going to be the perfect audience, to teach them at a young age, starting in Kindergarten all the way through sixth grade -- it's perfect," Zarchin said of Character Counts.
Reynolds said Zarchin leads his Soldiers by example.
"He's very fair, but he also expects everyone to uphold the standards. He lives the Army Values," she said. "He not only talks the talk, but he walks the walk. He practices what he preaches. It's not like he's telling us certain things and he's out there doing something totally different."
At Christmas time, when the military police had to work, Reynolds remembers Zarchin brought some of his Family members to the post to deliver cookies to the police officers on Christmas Day.
"These Soldiers mean the world to him," Reynolds said. "I just think so highly of him and his Family. He includes the Soldiers in everything.
"He has such great character. He's very resilient. I would follow him to any war, any type of conflict there is, I would be right there by his side" she said.
Headquarters Battalion operations officer Maj. Geoffrey Earnhart said he was taken aback by the fact that Zarchin was willing to let his staff problem solve.
"It was really refreshing to see a combat officer that was so open minded," Earnhart said.
Reynolds, too, benefited from his management style.
"I couldn't ask for a better commander. He lets me do my job as a sergeant major," she said. "Sometimes you have commanders that want to do everything all the time, and don't let the NCOs be the NCOs. He's not like that at all."
Zarchin said both himself and Reynolds believe the success of their staff is their job.
"A lot of people think you're in command to have other people work for you," he explained. "The command sergeant major and I feel very strongly about us being here to enable people to do their jobs. In a sense, we see us working for them to help them accomplish their mission, which is the overall unit's mission."
Zarchin has ensured Headquarters Battalion Soldiers gain unique experiences by partnering with the 12th Aviation Battalion to get Fort Belvoir Soldiers on flights.
"The pilots have to train all the time anyway. They have to fly. He coordinated with our Soldiers to be able to fly with them," Reynolds said.
Through that partnership, Soldiers have had the opportunity to fly when there are extra seats available.
Gadson said Soldiers have seen and flown in aircraft they may never have had to opportunity to otherwise, and have been to places like Puerto Rico.
"Brian Zarchin is an aviator, and he's used his understanding of the aviation community and his desire to take care of Soldiers and reward them with resilience flights," Gadson said. "They've gone places they wouldn't go, they've flown in aircraft they never would have flown on and got an experience in the Army that they never would have seen because of Lt. Col. Zarchin."
Zarchin championed the Army Resilience program. Now, newcomers to the post go through two days of resilience training. The program will also open a Resilience Obstacle Course next month.
"People are better off for it," Reynolds said. "You're always going to have that push back from some people who think, 'Oh it's just another training session.' But we have stats to show how well that program has helped people and assisted in making them more positive and able to bounce back from adversity."
Earnhart said Zarchin pushed to make the program a success.
"He was willing to put his rank and his effort behind the program," he said.
Throughout all of his accomplishments, Zarchin said it's the people who have made his career so rewarding.
"The highlight in this type of work is always going to be working with amazing people. We have the privilege of working for and with selfless patriots and their Families and civilians," he said.
As he prepares to leave the Army, Zarchin said his service and experiences serving have been a privilege.
"I never pass up the opportunity to reinforce that serving in this military is an absolute privilege. Over my 21-plus year career, I have realized that more and more every year," he said. "It's a privilege to serve with people that want to serve themselves and serve others through the military. The best part of that is, the majority of the people who serve, do so under the same set of values. Those are values you can't find in a lot of civilian organizations."