The U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center welcomed a new commander and bid farewell to its former commander and his Family during a ceremony at ATC's main front on the morning of April 28.

On a bright, clear, spring day, Col. Jeffrey P. Holt became ATC's 27th commander before an audience of military leaders, ATC and Aberdeen Proving Ground employees, Family, friends and well-wishers. The change of command was presided over by host Maj. Gen. Roger A. Nadeau, commanding general, U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command.

The ceremony began with an invocation by ATEC Chaplain (Col.) Michael Hoyt followed by a presentation of flower bouquets to ATC's outgoing commander Col. John P. Rooney's wife, Kathleen, and his daughters, Caitlin and Colleen, as an expression of Rooney's gratitude for their love and support over the years. Holt's wife Peggy also received a bouquet of roses, welcoming her into the ATC Family.

The official party, consisting of Rooney, Holt and Nadeau, stood at attention as the Ordnance Mechanical Maintenance School, 16th Ordnance Battalion, fired a 13-round salute while the U.S. Army Materiel Command Band played "Ruffles and Flourishes" and "The General's March." Nadeau deferred honors to Rooney as a sign of respect and admiration.

Nadeau presented Rooney with the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award presented for non-combat actions of the Department of Defense and the individual branches of service which is given to any person, who while serving in any capacity, has been recognized by exceptionally meritorious service to the government while serving in a position of great responsibility. The certificate awarding the medal was signed by U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and Secretary of the U.S. Army Pete Geren.

Under Rooney's leadership, ATC has excelled in supporting a nation at war. As stated in the justification for his DSM, because of Rooney's efforts, ATC has delivered comprehensive test services for more than 1,000 Department of Defense programs annually on major acquisition systems. These systems include, but are not limited to: Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, Stryker Mobile Gun System (MGS), Abrams M1A1 tank, vehicle up-armoring programs, counter-improvised explosive device programs and body armor.

During his remarks, Nadeau stated that "this officer [Rooney], on this day, in this command, deserves the largest recognition that we could give him."

The ceremony also included Rooney's retirement ceremony which marked the end of a 31-year military career.

Nadeau also presented Rooney with the Department of the Army Certificate of Retirement and Kathleen with the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal and the Department of the Army Certificate of Appreciation.

"Soldiers are alive today because of what happens at ATC," Nadeau remarked.

During his emotional farewell, Rooney thanked his Family for their love and dedication, and he extolled the work of the noncommissioned officer and especially those who had taught him throughout his career. The entire contingent of ATC's noncommissioned officers participated in some way during the ceremony.

"I consider ATC's work force the Army's civilian equivalent to our noncommissioned officer," Rooney said. "The people here at ATC are doers, and they get things done time and again. The Army and the Department of Defense continue to ask more and more of them, and they meet the challenge every single time."

Once the official ceremony was complete, the ATC work force showcased some of ATC's work with a parade of vehicles and equipment followed by a firing demonstration. The parade of vehicles highlighted three of five variants of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, three Stryker variants, an Abrams tank, and three high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles each with a different iteration of the up-armoring fragmentation kits.

Holt ready to embrace challenges

Holt has just returned to the states from an assignment where he commanded Military Transition Team 0500 assigned in support of the 5th Iraqi Army Division in Diyala Province, Iraq. He is very enthusiastic about taking command at ATC.

"I promise that I will give the same passion and intensity that John has given to make this command what it is today," Holt said during his remarks. "I see an organization that simply refuses to accept boundaries and refuses to accept a limit to the talent and spirit of its work force. You can see that's what ATC has done, and I will do everything to support the men and women of this command."

Holt was born at Fort Campbell, Ky., and began his military career when he received a commission as a second lieutenant in Infantry in1982 from the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of South Alabama.

He and his wife Peggy are the parents of son, Seth, who is an ROTC cadet at the University of New Mexico.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16