WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii -- A new commander took the reins of the 599th Transportation Brigade at the unit’s headquarters here on June 26.
Col. Erik Hilberg assumed command of the brigade from Col. Frazariel I. Castro during a virtual change of command ceremony hosted by Brig. Gen. Heidi Hoyle, commanding general of Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), the 599th's higher headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.
Castro had high praise for his experience at the 599th, but he noted that COVID-19 restrictions caused some negative aspects.
“I have been blessed with having the privilege of working with professionals who know their craft and give their best each and every day to ensure our battalions are successful,” he said.
“I am saddened that the present circumstances do not permit a final handshake or a hug,” he said. “But do know that each of you will forever have a special place in my heart.”
And Hoyle had high praise for the job Castro did at while commanding the 599th.
“It’s Col. Castro who has overseen and provided the continuity and leadership to accomplish these movements; and I’m sure it will continue in the future,” she said. “Bottom line: His ability to think, plan, and strategize are unmatched, and that is why he is headed to serve as the G3 of the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command at Camp Henry, Korea.”
A true transporter, in the past Hilberg not only commanded transportation units at all levels of responsibility up to brigade, he has also branched out as professor of military science at Lehigh University; and in his latest position, he served as the chief of Crisis Response and Counter Terrorism Branch at Indo-Pacific Command.
He is also familiar with the U.S. Pacific Command area of operations. In an earlier assignment he was deputy director for plans, training, mobilization and security for Area 1 Support Group at Camp Red Cloud, Korea, and his recent battalion command was at the 25th Transportation Battalion in Daegu, South Korea.
Because it was a virtual ceremony, Hoyle could not attend in person. Col. Greg Boyd, Deputy Commander at the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, stood in to pass the colors.
The 599th Transportation Brigade is U.S. Indo-Pacific Command's only transportation brigade and is responsible for all military movements within the Pacific, which includes strategic surface movements supporting more than 360,000 military and civilian personnel and half of the world's surface, across 16 different time zones.
“In all you do, you truly embody what it means to be Surface Warriors – trusted professionals delivering readiness -- bolstering strategic readiness in support of COCOM requirements and the Chief of Staff of the Army’s priorities,” said Hoyle regarding the 599th.