By Ms. Catrina Francis (Fort Knox news)July 21, 2017
After two years, Col. Steve Aiton relinquished command of Fort Knox's Garrison Command to Col. Patrick Kaune Friday at Waybur Theater. Command Sgt. Maj. Bobby Wooldridge also changed responsibility during the ceremony to Command Sgt. Maj. Garrick Griffin. The ceremony was hosted by Vincent Grewatz, the director of U.S. Army Installation Management Command-Training.
After the colors were passed to the incoming command team, Grewatz said he was delighted to welcome the new commander, command sergeant major and their spouses to the team.
"These transitional directors are more about continuity than they are about change," explained Grewatz. "We witness a change in garrison leadership today. The Soldiers and civilians of the garrison remain fully engaged, just as Cadet Summer Training continues, so does the support to this garrison team. They continue to support and serve the Soldiers and Families of Fort Knox. Because of the outstanding leadership here, you can rest assured that the Soldiers and civilian workforce will remain committed…"
Grewatz pointed out that the members of the garrison team were amazing because they work day in and day out in the face of hiring freezes, constrained resources and rapidly changing requirements.
He added that as commander Aiton performed superbly on an installation with high expectations and low margin for error. He said Aiton delivered services to standard to more than 44,000 Family members, retirees, civilians, contractors and others who are served here, including the transient population of more than 28,000 each and every year.
"Over the last couple of years he's spearheaded unit activations and inactivations. A transformation of the composition of Fort Knox (was) unprecedented in the history of the installation posturing it for the future," Grewatz said about Aiton and his tenure as commander. "He was instrumental in establishing the first consolidated claims office here in the Army ahead of schedule and under budget.
"Under his leadership the garrison continued its strong tradition of energy excellence, ensuring sustainable operation at (a) significant lower cost and assisting other installations to build their own energy programs. … This is truly a role model installation in the area of energy and sustainability that you may not recognize here on Fort Knox…"
Grewatz pointed out that Wooldridge was a fierce champion for the installation because he led by example and set high standards for the community because his leader developing and mentoring programs grew senior noncommissioned officers and enhanced their professional development of the entire NCO corps on the installation.
Grewatz said the garrison is in good hands with Kaune and Griffin because they bring a track record of excellence and passion for mission, people and Families.
In his last address to the garrison team, Aiton said serving at Fort Knox has been two of the most rewarding years of his life because being commander of the garrison has been a unique experience.
"Coming here I truly thought I knew a thing or two on what makes our installations go," Aiton. "What I quickly learned day one, and have continued to learn since, in many ways I didn't have a clue."
Aiton added that in the two short years as commander he saw a dedicated team of professionals who care about each other and more than that, truly care about the Soldiers, Families and civilians because they continue to serve Fort Knox through major change.
"I saw countless volunteers whose time, efforts and talents make so many of our programs that much better,"Aiton said. "I saw plenty of challenges, money, manpower and some of these things we never saw coming or imagine what happen. Despite that I saw so much good around me.
"I saw child care employees cry the day we were forced to temporarily stop hourly and part-day service because they care that much about the kids under their watch. And I saw the resilience just a few short months later when they achieved the highest score in the Army in their annual Army level child care inspection."
Aiton added that Fort Knox has the best maintained ranges and grounds in the Army. He said that he had an opportunity to see the best librarian in the Department of Defense.
"He could work anywhere he wants but he's (dedicated) and works here," said Aiton about Michael Steinmacher, the director of Fort Knox's Barr Memorial Library.
He told Wooldridge it's been a lot of fun, and most days he couldn't imagine having a better wingman.
When Wooldridge addressed the garrison he said the team has the right mixture of dedicated hard-working employees.
"Every day we shut off the lights and head home, and a lot (of you) are just getting their second wind or just coming in," said explained Wooldridge.
Upon addressing the garrison for the first time Kaune said he will continue to improve the "gold standard" that was established by Aiton.
"To Fort Knox… your presence here today honors the garrison (because) team leaders change out, they come and go … (but) the team remains committed," said Kaune. "Command Sgt. Maj. Griffin and I accept this challenge."
Griffin said he looks forward to continuing the relationships established by Aiton and Wooldridge.
"Thank you all for coming out," said Griffin. "It's a truly humbling experience and I plan to give you all the best."