ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - Maj. Gen. Yves J. Fontaine became commanding general of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command at a ceremony held here today.

Maj. Gen. Fontaine took command of ASC from Maj. Gen. Robert M. Radin, who had served as commanding general since July 2007. Radin has been reassigned to Department of the Army Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he will serve as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics (G-4).

Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, presided at the ceremony. In a traditional act that has been performed many times on the arsenal's Memorial Field, and on other parade fields at Army installations worldwide, Dunwoody passed the flag of command from Radin to Fontaine.

With his position as commanding general established, Fontaine then passed the flag to ASC's top enlisted Soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen D. Blake, for safekeeping.

In her remarks, Dunwoody stated that the flag passing and other traditional elements of the change of command ceremony were "the Army's way of recognizing continuity of command" and then quipped, "You may have noticed that I had to wrestle the flag away from General Radin."

Dunwoody praised Radin's wife, Sara, for her work with Army families and with the community, and praised the Radins for the work they had done in "strengthening the bonds" between the arsenal and the surrounding Quad Cities area.

"There really is a special relationship here between the arsenal and the community," Dunwoody said. "You can really feel the love you had for Bob and Sara Radin."

Dunwoody remarked that Radin had accomplished much in his brief two years in command.

"You've made amazing changes, you built a remarkable team, and, by transforming this command, you ushered in a new era for Army sustainment," she said.

"Bob had molded ASC into an operational command totally focused on supporting warfighters around the world," Dunwoody said. "His visionary leadership helped produce two years of steady progress on all fronts, and two years of outstanding support to our combat forces at a time of persistent conflict."

Dunwoody then welcomed Fontaine to ASC by stating, "They don't come any more qualified nor any more ready for command. He knows what right looks like and understands what support to the warfighter means. Most important of all, he knows how to take care of Soldiers, civilians and their families.

"I've known Maj. Gen. Fontaine for many years. He has the energy and the intellect for the job.... Notice that I didn't say patience," she added, drawing a laugh from the audience.

In his remarks, Radin pointed out that two senior civilian staff members from ASC - Sandi Schneider and Jim Coffman - had joined 95 ASC Soldiers on the parade field as active participants in the change of command ceremony.

"We did this because I thought it was important to demonstrate that this command's strength is the melding of Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians into one team," he said.

Radin told the audience that he had taken a long walk around the arsenal with his dog, Mauri, on the Sunday just past.

"It was a beautiful day and it gave me plenty of time to think about the upcoming change of command, and to reflect on how special it's been to serve here in the Quad Cities," he said.

He then recalled some of the special moments he had experienced while living and serving on the Arsenal, such as spotting 17 bald eagles in an oak tree outside his quarters and the thanks he had received from a father whose son was able to attend college because of a scholarship granted by a local spouses' group.

"As I walked, I said a little prayer for our servicemembers and civilians deployed around the world, and asked God to keep them safe," he said. "And I remembered how proud I was of the times that our workforce lined Rodman Avenue in honor of our fallen comrades - Staff Sgt. Nathan Cox, Cpl. Jason Pautsch and Sgt. Justin Duffy."

Cox, Pautsch and Duffy were killed in action. Their funeral processions went down the arsenal's main thoroughfare on their way to burial at Rock Island National Cemetery, located at the western tip of the installation. Members of Cox and Pautsch's family were special guests at the change of command ceremony.

His voice choked with emotion, Radin turned to the family members and said, "Your loved ones and their sacrifices for our great nation will never be forgotten - not by me, not by the people of Rock Island Arsenal, not by the people of the Quad Cities.

"We've made so many friends and we cherish the time we spent here at Rock Island Arsenal," Radin concluded. "Thank you and God bless you all."

Fontaine began his remarks by extending greetings to special guests from the community and thanking the Quad Cities area for the warm welcome it had given him and his wife, Kathy.

He then added, "In keeping with established rules of engagement, I'll keep my remarks short.

"To the Quad Cities community, I look forward to carrying on the fantastic relationship that Bob and Sara Radin have established with you," he said. "To the people of ASC, your reputation for excellence is renowned around the world, and I am honored to serve with you as you as we tackle future challenges."

Fontaine is ASC's third commanding general, succeeding Radin and Maj. Gen. Jerome Johnson, who was in command when ASC was established in October 2006.

Commands led by general officers have been headquartered at Rock Island Arsenal since the Ordnance Weapons Command was established here in 1955, and Fontaine is the 23rd in a line of commanding generals who have served on the arsenal in the past 54 years.

Fontaine comes to ASC from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where he served as commanding general of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command. Prior to that assignment, Fontaine served as the chief of G-4 (Logistics) for U.S. Army-Europe, 7th U.S. Army, in Heidelberg, Germany.

From November 2004 to November 2005, Fontaine was deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as commanding general of the 1st Corps Support Command. He previously served in the Persian Gulf region during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, as a plans and operations officer with the 24th Infantry Division and later as the U.S. liaison to a French military unit.

Fontaine, 56, is a native of Belgium who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1971. He was commissioned as an Army officer in 1976 following his graduation from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, Pa., where was named as Distinguished Military Graduate.

Fontaine and his wife, Kathy, are the parents of four daughters: Laura, Sara, Michelle, and Genevieve.

Page last updated Wed September 2nd, 2009 at 15:53