FORT BLISS, Texas - As the midsummer sun scorched the sands of Fort Bliss, Texas, the 1st Armored Division remained committed to the endurance of legacy and celebration of leadership as it held a division change of command ceremony, July 28.
The ceremony celebrated the outstanding leadership of Maj. Gen. Patrick E. Matlock, the outgoing commanding general of 1AD, native of Willows, California, and formally welcomed Brig. Gen. Matthew L. Eichburg, the incoming commanding general of 1AD and native of Warren, Michigan, into the division’s top leadership role. Gen. Michael X. Garrett, the commanding general of United States Army Forces Command and native of Cleveland, Ohio, hosted the ceremony, providing valuable insight and heartfelt gratitude to Matlock and Eichburg as they formally transferred command of 1AD.
“Since Maj. Gen. Matlock took command, 1st Armored Division has made impressive strides in generating decisive readiness and real lethality,” said Garrett, praising the effectiveness of Matlock’s command. “The division headquarters and its subordinate brigades delivered that decisive readiness as they deployed in support of missions in Europe, South Korea and Afghanistan.”
Matlock, along with over 250 fellow Iron Soldiers from the division’s headquarters, recently returned from Afghanistan where he used skills cultivated by a career of agile leadership, supporting Operations Freedom’s Sentinel and Resolute Support. Matlock’s leadership at home also amplified the capabilities and efficiency of 1AD’s brigades, ensuring that they remained a formidable force capable of defeating any threat.
“Under Patrick's direction, brigades executed tough realistic home station training and maximized the number of repetitions and sets, and varied the conditions," said Garrett. "As a result of this training, they cultivated a force that can and will win at the point of contact."
Matlock thanked and expressed his pride for the 1AD Noncommissioned Officers and their success at instilling a culture of service, safety and leadership across the division. Matlock specifically noted the extended period in which Fort Bliss and 1AD have gone without vehicular safety incident.
“When you depart post today, you will see a sign that displays a number of days since we’ve lost a Soldier in a vehicle accident. Today's number is 309 for the post and for the division. This is an almost unbelievable accomplishment that speaks directly to the quality of our Noncommissioned Officers, their ability to establish standards and discipline and their officers’ support to them in that endeavor,” said Matlock. “I'm proud of our Noncommissioned Officers and I'm proud of the way our senior Noncommissioned Officers develop the future leaders of the Army.”
Matlock emphasized the importance of meeting people, fostering new relationships and developing leadership in young leaders by noting stories on how he met and learned about a young infantry colonel’s background and service during the recent Afghanistan deployment, and another about the lessons taught to him by a senior leader at the United States Military Academy.
Matlock expressed his hope that his leadership and ability to connect with Soldiers will continue to develop them.
“I’d like to think that one of the young people I've spent time with in the 1st Armored Division will be standing on this parade field 30 years from now and just might remember a story or two,” Matlock said. “It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your commanding general and my heart will always be with those colors.”
Matlock concluded by addressing Eichburg directly, offering words of praise and wishes of success to the incoming commanding general.
“Matthew Eichburg, you are exactly the right person to carry the Old Ironsides Division in Fort Bliss, Texas, forward," Matlock said. “I wish you and your entire team the very best in these endeavors.”
Eichburg took the opportunity to address the audience and the division before the conclusion of the ceremony, noting the importance of two generals in developing his leadership.
“There have been two general officers in particular in my life who have made a tremendous impact on me and after whom I've tried to align my leadership style, said Eichburg. “One is Lt. Gen. Tom Vandal. He enforced standards and constantly worked to ensure the success of his people and highlight that success for everyone who might have had an impact on their careers. The other is Maj. Gen. Patrick Matlock. Since 2009, he's been a commander, a mentor and a friend... he is the best example of a senior leader, providing constant mentorship for subordinates over the years."
Eichburg closed the ceremony by reaffirming the key tenants which defines 1AD and ensured that it will remain an effective fighting force, promising a positive and protective environment supporting Soldiers and their families.
“This division, in the footsteps of Maj. Gen. Matlock, will take care of its Soldiers and families, improve our combat readiness every day, and when called upon to do so, deploy, fight and win,” said Eichburg. “We will do so based on a positive command climate that does not admire problems but solves them in an environment of leader development and learning.”