U.S. Army South’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion bid farewell to Lt. Col. Heather Clevenger and welcomed Lt. Col. Mark A. Katz in a change of command ceremony on June 16 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
“Thank you everyone for joining us today wherever you are,” said Maj. Gen. Daniel R. Walrath, U.S. Army South commanding general, as he presided over the ceremony that was livestreamed due to the current pandemic. “Just as we have been doing for several months of this COVID pandemic and having to figure out how to adjust to a set of change in conditions while still pursuing and conducting our mission, we are doing the same thing here this morning – following through with a very important event where we recognize the change in commanders.”
He continued by recognizing some of the many positive changes Clevenger was able to make during her time as the battalion commander. He thanked her for reigniting the culture of readiness across the command.
“The Army has to be ready for the away game – we don’t do our mission here at home base” said Walrath. “This requires Soldiers, units, and equipment that are ready to deploy. Heather has comprehensively addressed training and medical deployability shortfalls in an effort that resulted in an almost a doubling of our Soldier readiness.”
Due to unit COVID-19 precautions, Clevenger was unable to attend the ceremony; however, she was able to participate remotely.
After recognizing the many exercises and changes she was a part of and wishing her well at her next command in Italy, Walrath welcomed Clevenger to say a few words from her alternate location over the speaker system.
“Thank you for taking the time to be here this morning to mark the passing of the Spartan battalion colors,” said Clevenger. “The COVID pandemic has forced us into uncharted territories. This ceremony is a testament of the challenges of our current environment and how creative we have become to keep Army traditions alive.”
She continued by thanking her husband, the battalion headquarters team, and the U.S. Army South directorates for assisting her during her command.
“This battalion has truly lived up to its motto ‘Spartans make it happen,’ all while demonstrating a genuine and sincere care and empathy for the very real Soldiers and their families who make up this great organization,” said Clevenger.
Katz said he is looking forward to taking command of the battalion.
“Command is an extraordinary privilege, something I don’t take for granted, and I’m extremely grateful that I have the opportunity to command here at Army South” said Katz as he thanked Walrath for the opportunity to be a part of the team. “To the Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion Spartans, you look great. Thank you for your support in bringing me on board and everything that you will do in the future to support this command. I want you to know that I will treat each and every one of you with dignity and respect. The health, welfare and morale of this unit is one of my top priorities. All I ask is that you do your best. I know I will.”
Although there are many restrictions due to COVID-19, the unit kept with military traditions while also maintaining the guidelines of social distancing and the use of face masks. Only a small group of family members and guests were allowed to attend, while many members of the unit, family, and friends watched the ceremony via livestream.