CASERMA EDERLE, Italy (July 24, 2019) - More than 300 distinguished guests, family members, Soldiers and civilians braved sweltering heat today as U.S. Army Garrison Italy bade farewell to Garrison Commander Col. Erik M. Berdy and welcomed Col. Daniel J. Vogel as its new leader.

The change of command ceremony took place on Hoekstra Field here after an awards ceremony wherein Berdy and his wife Kelli received a Legion of Merit and Meritorious Service Medal, respectively, for their service and leadership in the Vicenza Military Community.

Also before the ceremony commenced, Berdy, Italian Base Commander Col. Umberto D'Andria, and Vicenza for Children President Coralba Scarrico signed a Friendship Covenant that recognized the commitment to building strong friendships between American and Italian families.

That commitment of friendship was evident at the ceremony, as seats were filled with not only Americans, but also with Italian leaders and friends who wished to say farewell to the Berdys and welcome the new commander and his family. Tommy Mize, director, Installation Management Command Europe, was also on hand, and praised Berdy's leadership and the accomplishments of USAG Italy over the past two years.

"As everyone here knows, the operations tempo for Vicenza- and Livorno-based units remains at an all-time high," said Mize. "Every organization here ... is delivering on America's commitment to our allies. And it is the garrison providing those forces with the right level of support, at the right time, with sustained excellence. It is the garrison keeping our Soldiers and families ready and resilient."

Berdy echoed the sentiment, specifically acknowledging the day-to-day efforts of garrison and installation employees.

"The American and Italian employees ... have redefined for me what a hard-working, dedicated Army professional is," he said. "They are focused on one thing: taking care of Soldiers, families and our community. They do so with little fanfare, recognition or request for special treatment, day in-day out, because they care."

The outgoing commander officially welcomed the Vogel family and wished them all the best.

"Words will never describe the adventure you are about to undertake. You are joining a great team, a great family, and you are going to make memories for a lifetime. ... Enjoy it while you can, your time here will go by way, way, way too fast," he said.

Vogel, a native of Chicago, comes to Vicenza from the Army War College, which followed an assignment as deputy director of operations for Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He said this is the first time he and his family have been to Italy and he looks forward to the "incredible opportunity" to lead the garrison.

"The world remains a complicated place, and the freedoms we enjoy are not assured," said Vogel. "Each and every member of USAG Italy, and our Italian partners, plays a critical role in making sure - when we are called upon by our national leaders - that we can go fight for and defend those same freedoms."

The new commander comes to Italy with his wife Amanda, and their two daughters, Caroline and Molly.

Berdy leaves Italy for a position as Special Assistant for Congressional Affairs to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington.