JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD -- As the new commander of 42nd Military Police Brigade, Col. Luis Omar Lomas is entering a significant phase in a career that has spanned three decades. And he knows it wouldn't have been possible without many of the family and friends who traveled from Texas to see him take the brigade colors from Col. Thomas Russell-Tutty.
"I have an uncle who served in Vietnam, and hearing him talk about it piqued my interest as a little kid," said Lomas, a native of McAllen, Texas. "I just felt it, that calling to serve."
Sitting in the front row of the change of command ceremony was that Vietnam veteran uncle, Ruben Montez. Getting to see his nephew take command brought back memories of his own service.
"When I came back in 1972, he was just a year old," said Montez, who wore the green beret with Army Special Forces and thrilled the young Lomas with stories about his three tours in Vietnam. "Look at him now … I'm very proud of him."
The ceremony also represented a farewell to Russell-Tutty, whose retirement from the Army was formally recognized by Lt. Gen. Gary J. Volesky, commander, I Corps. After handing off the brigade colors, Russell-Tutty was awarded the Legion of Merit medal by Volesky and presented with the Army Retirement Pin, a letter of appreciation from the Commander in Chief, and a ceremonial American flag.
"Due to your vision, leadership and unwavering focus, your units have always been able to accomplish any mission they were tasked to do," Volesky said of Russell-Tutty, whose wife, Lisa Russell-Tutty, was also presented with a civilian commendation medal by Volesky.
Russell-Tutty described his retirement after commanding 42nd MP Bde as "leaving on top."
"The only thing I regret is I did not have more time to spend with my family," Russell-Tutty said while gesturing to his wife Lisa and daughter Kendall. "But in hindsight, it also made me cherish the time I do get to spend with them."
The change of command ceremony included support from the 313th U.S. Army Band, a reserve unit that traveled to JBLM from Birmingham, Alabama to support the event. After the formal change of command and retirement portions of the ceremony, all the subordinate units of 42nd MP Bde marched by the reviewing stand for the traditional pass and review.
As the new commander of 42nd MP Bde, Lomas will oversee a large group of Soldiers whose primary mission is the safety and protection of the Soldiers, Airmen, civilians and families of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. In addition to brigade commander, Col. Lomas will also wear the hats of Director of Emergency Services on JBLM and Director of the Northwestern Joint Regional Correctional Facility.
After being inspired by his uncle, Lomas' Army career began shortly after he graduated from McAllen High School and reported to basic training. While he was a recruit trying to avoid his drill sergeants' ire, Saddam Hussein was preparing to invade Kuwait, which would lead to Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. As a young Soldier, Lomas would deploy in support of both operations.
Lomas would eventually commission as an officer through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at Southwest Texas State University in 1996. As an officer, Lomas' duty positions has taken him through Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Kansas, Hawaii and Washington, D.C., and overseas on deployments in support of the Global War on Terrorism.
Through all his travels, Lomas hasn't forgotten his McAllen and Texas roots.
"No matter where the Army sends me, I'll always be from McAllen," Lomas said.