By 1st Lt. Samuel Jolley (3rd ABCT, 4th ID)June 11, 2017
MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIR BASE, Romania - At the core of every great organization is great leaders, and a change at the top of the task force heading up Operation Atlantic Resolve training in the Black Sea region left an enduring impact marked by a ceremony here June 5.
Task Force 1-8 Infantry welcomed key leaders from its parent 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team and 4th Infantry Division to recognize the accomplishments of Lt. Col. Jason Sabat and Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Jay Morse, who handed over the reins of the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, to a new command team.
Lt. Col. Mark Battjes and Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Timothy Chrysler prepare to lead the battalion as it begins to shift training with the 282nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade in Romania to the the grassy hills of Bulgaria for participation in multinational exercise Eagle Sentinel and Peace Sentinel, which will fall under the U.S. Army Europe exercise umbrella of Saber Guardian 17 in the Black Sea Region. The battalion later will shift to the dense forests of Germany in support of Combined Resolve IX later this summer.
Both new and old battalion leadership gathered on NATO's eastern-most border, Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania, to change command and responsibility.
Col. Christopher R. Norrie, commander of 3/4 ABCT, served as the senior reviewing officer. Spouses and children of the outgoing command team as well as leadership of the 4th Infantry Division back at home station Fort Carson, Colorado, participated in the ceremony via a virtual teleconference.
"If you talk to any Soldiers from 1-8 Infantry, you can tell Lt. Col. Sabat and Command Sgt. Maj Morse have left big shoes to fill. But there is no doubt in my mind that Lt Col. Battjes and Command Sgt. Maj. Chrysler will carry this battalion to even greater heights," said Norrie.
Nearly two years ago, Sabat and Morse assumed the command and responsibility of the 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Regt. while the 3/4 ABCT served in support of Operation Spartan Shield in the Persian Gulf. During the two years since, the pair led the battalion in two overseas deployments, numerous field exercises and an NTC rotation.
"The leadership and demeanor of both these great leaders will be severely missed," said Sgt. Dimitar Dzherikarov, battalion master driver. "Lt. Col. Sabat is one of those extraordinary people who is a natural born leader. I am ready to fight for him in hell if he needed me to. For me, he is more than a commander, he is like a part of my family. I am honored to have served under his command."
2nd Lt. Rachael Bassett, battalion medical officer, said Morse put the welfare of his Soldiers above all else.
"He's not afraid to tell it like it is or tell you the truth you may not want to hear. He has personally taught me what it means to be a responsible leader and how to improve in my role as an officer and a platoon leader," Bassett said.
Sabat departs to take a second battalion command with one of the newly stood up Security Force Assistance Brigade battalions at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Morse heads to a second command as well as the senior non-commissioned officer of observer-coach trainer at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany.
Battjes, the new commander of 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Regt., most recently served as a fellow in the U.S. /Army's Advanced Strategic Planning and Policy Program. He is a veteran of four operational tours in Iraq.
Chrysler takes over as the senior enlisted advisor after prior service as a brigade operations sergeant major and battalion operations sergeant major. He has deployed to Iraq three times and Afghanistan two times in his 22-year career.
"I have never hesitated to call upon 1-8 Infantry to lead from the front," said Norrie. The Fighting Eagles represented the brigade in January during a national welcoming ceremony and live-fire exhibition with the Polish 11th Armored Cavalry Division that was attended by Polish President Andrzej Duda.
"Similarly, we have called upon this noble battalion to serve as the ambassadors for the 4th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Europe, and our great nation on the eastern edge of NATO's borders as we provide a strong measure of deterrence to aggression in our Atlantic Resolve mission," he said.