By T. Anthony BellJuly 24, 2018
FORT LEE, Va. (July 16, 2018) -- Another Army mariner joined the Transportation Corps leadership team at a change of responsibility ceremony July 16 in Fort Lee's Wylie Hall auditorium.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jermain C. Williamson Sr. -- who previously served as the chief of the Maritime Qualification Division Office, Joint Base Langley-Eustis -- became the fifth Trans. Corps Regimental Warrant Officer, replacing CW5 Donald E. Berg Jr., also a mariner who has held the RCWO position for three years.
Col. Jered P. Helwig, 30th Chief of Transportation, presided over the formalities that included the passing of a ceremonial sword, symbolizing the Army's trust in an individual to lead and care for the troops under his or her charge.
During remarks after the RCWO transition, Helwig said the past two weeks -- which coincided with the Warrant Officer Cohort centennial observance -- reiterated to him the criticality of warrants as subject matter experts in the institutional and operational Army environments.
"Everyone here knows the critical importance of the Warrant Officer Cohort in our formations," said Helwig, who became the COT in June. "They're the Army's highly specialized, technical experts and trainers. I've personally been shaped throughout my career by many excellent warrants of all types."
Williamson, a native of Portsmouth, joined the Army in 1992 and became a marine deck officer in 1999. He has since served in varying positons such as vessel master; maritime mobility officer; training, advising and counseling officer; training developer; detachment commander; maritime planning and operations officer in charge; and Maritime Training Division chief.
He began his remarks with a Biblical passage. "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands," he recited. "What a day, what a day!"
Williamson went on to thank his "Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," sustainment leaders at all levels and his family members, several of whom were present to include his wife, retired CW4 Jennifer Williamson.
"I am truly humbled to be standing before you today," he continued. "This position not only carries with it the weight of tremendous responsibility, but also the tremendous opportunity to champion the cause of today's Transportation Corps officers and Soldiers. I've been blessed to have a number of challenging and diverse assignments throughout my career, and I hope to bring to bear all of the lessons learned from those experiences to assist me in what is now the most important job I've had to date. I look forward to working with all of you as we make the Transportation Corps more ready, more modern and more committed to the Soldiers in our formations."
Berg's achievements while serving as the RCWO were lauded by Helwig, who further categorized the accomplishments as "crucial to the success of corps and CASCOM." Berg is credited with: developing the requirements and operational concept for the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light); reestablishing the authorized stock list for Army watercraft; integrating Army watercraft to the Global Combat Support System - Army; creating the first Army Watercraft Forum in 2016; and increasing watercraft warrant officer applications by 200 percent for the active component and 500 percent for the reserve component.
The departing officer did not specifically mention the merits of any of his projects during remarks but instead thanked his wife Kathryn and their family, as well as an assortment of leaders, Soldiers, administrators and support staff that "made it all possible." At the conclusion of his speech, Berg offered some advice for those resistant to change, which in his view seems to be a recurring issue at varying levels of the military.
"Change is coming for the Army and change is coming for the transportation field," said the Seattle native. "Some of this change will hurt … Putting your resources and efforts toward not changing doesn't help anyone. You need to get aboard the train of change and then use your resources and knowledge in time to shape that change; shape it to what the Transportation Corps needs it to be. If you're not on the train, you can't do any of that."
Following the ceremony, Berg exchanged sentiments with a long procession of well-wishers. Later, he reflected on his accomplishments and singled out his work in accessions as the most important.
"When I came into the job, we were not meeting the (recruiting) mission," he recalled. "It was evident we had to change. We weren't getting enough NCOs to become warrant officers. We had to establish a different model, so we raised the bar -- we actually made some standards tougher -- but we also opened up the appetite. We opened a narrow road to make it wider, yet still raised some standards. We went from getting six packets a year to 40 packets (for the active component)."
Berg acknowledged his reputation will not only be tied to accessions but the success of the new recruits as they move about their careers. He said he intends to track how well they progress.
"We just graduated our first class with the new changes and spoke to them (about their significant role in the future Army)," he said. "I'm going to follow them, and I'm going to ensure their success because we've made it through the first gate. Now, we have to evaluate them three years from now."
Berg has been reassigned as the Maritime Qualification Division chief, the position previously held by Williamson. He said he's anxious to return to his native field and a position that will allow him to assess some of the new warrants and continued to shape future requirements.
"A lot of the initiatives I started as the Regimental Warrant Officer, I will be able to complete them as the Maritime Qualification (Division) chief," he said. "I will still be able to work with the COT on initiatives that concern our watercraft field, ensuring we continue to get it right as we have and build on the work we couldn't get done at the regimental level."