By Michael StrasserMay 1, 2019
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (May 1, 2019) -- Members of the Fort Drum community and invited guests welcomed Maj. Gen. Brian J. Mennes and bade farewell to Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt during the 10th Mountain Division (LI) change of command ceremony May 1 at Magrath Sports Complex.
Gen. Michael T. Garrett, U.S. Army Forces Command commanding general, officiated the ceremony. He thanked Piatt and his wife Cynthia for their leadership and tireless commitment to building a stronger community.
"This division is full of high-performing Soldiers who are tactically and technically proficient, dedicated to their profession and committed to accomplishing any mission to standard," he said. "Walt, Cynthia, thank you for all you have done to lead the 10th Mountain Division and this community."
Garrett said that Mennes is a battle-tested warfighter who has deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom three times, and in support of Operation Enduring Freedom five times.
"Brian Mennes knows what it takes to ensure our Soldiers and our units are ready for whatever mission they are given," he said. "He has a passion for Soldiers and families, and I am confident that he will continue to lead this great division to new heights."
In his remarks, Piatt said that it has been an honor to lead the division and that he was grateful to Fort Drum's dedicated civilian workforce.
"I am so proud of this civilian workforce," he said. "I admire them much more than I ever led them. We truly are the blue-collared division of this great nation. I was honored each and every day observing the service and sacrifice of the Soldiers and families of this great division."
Mennes told the audience that he and his wife Kellie, and their three children, are excited to join a community that is not only close to his hometown in Buffalo, but also shares similar hard-working, family-focused values.
"We hope to be great friends with you guys and look forward to joining the team," he said. "I am so happy to be a Soldier at this time in our country's history, because of the support you give to our Soldiers. I think you help to make this Army, by far, one of the best institutions in the world, and we will do our best to satisfy your expectations of us."
Mennes previously served in numerous command and staff positions in the Ranger Regiment, Joint Special Operations Command, 7th and 2nd Infantry Division and the 82nd Airborne Command. A U.S. Military Academy Class of 1988 graduate, Mennes arrives at Fort Drum from Washington, D.C., where he served as the director of force management for the Headquarters Department of the Army G-3/5/7.
"The Army does a great job of leader development, so I've had the opportunity to work with great leaders, great Soldiers, who have influenced me particularly in the right way to do things," he said.
Mennes said that he knows how much impact his predecessor had in the North Country community and that Piatt's leadership of the 10th Mountain Division was unparalleled.
"Gen. Piatt's reputation is solid, and he's just a good person," he said. "He's the type of person you'd want to have over to the house or take a vacation with. That type of spirit here at Fort Drum, you can just feel it. You walk through the gate and you're visited by him and this great team."
Mennes said that he hopes to continue building upon that effort of community spirit.
"The reputation of the community at Fort Drum and the North Country is almost Army-wide," he said. "When you ask anyone about Fort Drum, one of the first things they talk about is the great community support. We hope to continue that great neighborly spirit."
Mennes said that, upon taking command, one of the first things he looks forward to doing is physical training with division Soldiers.
"Getting to be part of their life, getting to know them," he said. "I'm just looking forward to being part of the team."