By Spc. Ryan Stroud, 59th Ordnance Bde Public AffairsJuly 1, 2009
"To talk about Tom Keegan, you can't do it at a ceremony like this, we wouldn't have enough time. He leaves an incredible legacy behind him. The things he has done for the entire community is phenomenal," said Brig. Gen. Lynn Collyar, the 35th chief of Ordnance and commanding general of the Army Ordnance Center and Schools, about Col. Thomas Keegan, outgoing commander of the 59th Ordnance Brigade.
Keegan relinquished command of the 59th during the brigade's change of command ceremony June 19 at the Redstone activity field. Incoming commander Col. Howard "Lee" Merritt received the brigade's colors from Collyar, instating him as the new commander.
The change of command was a final chance for Keegan to stand before of the Soldiers he's led for the past two years and to welcome the new challenges which lay ahead for Merritt.
The ceremony included an inspection of troops, the formal change of command, and a pass and review of all the troops.
"From the growth of the EOD community to setting up courses to ensure Soldiers deploying overseas to harm's way have received the latest and most advanced technical training they can so we can bring all of them home, that's what Tom Keegan is all about," Collyar said. "Providing the best support he can no matter where it is or how it is.
"Tom is one of my primary advisers," he continued. "The experience and knowledge he has in this brigade and TRADOC overall (is incredible). When I took over (the Army Ordnance Center and Schools) I immediately talked to Tom over many issues, and oftentimes before I make a decision, I will send a note to Tom to see what his opinion is because I know he's got the background and experience, the levelheadedness to give me the full details I need to make the right decision.
"Tom, I appreciate everything you have done. I thank you on behalf of myself and the entire Ordnance Center and Schools at Aberdeen (Md.) for everything you have done for us. I wish you godspeed.
"Taking command today is Lee Merritt, another officer with a superb record," Collyar said. "His legacy, thought and reputation precedes him. He's the right guy to take over this unit, at the right time and continue the legacy and the movement forward that Tom Keegan has established. I look forward to serving with you this next year or more."
A modest Keegan spoke next during the ceremony.
"I stand humbled and honored to have served with each and every Soldier and NCO in this brigade. You are the best and you train the best," Keegan said. "This is the finest AIT brigade in TRADOC and I'm absolutely convinced of it, but it doesn't happen without a lot of help.
"I want to thank my family," he continued. "Thank you for understanding me and who I am and thank you for understanding my passion for our great nation. I could have done nothing without my God and my Savior. I thank him each and every day for giving me the ability and the opportunity to be a Soldier and to lead Soldiers. Please know that this brigade will continue to be covered in my prayers.
"Lee, I pray that God grant you wisdom, insight and a since of presence throughout this command," Keegan concluded.
The incoming commander, Merritt, was the last to speak during the ceremony.
"I am overwhelmed with a sense of pride and humility to be afforded the opportunity to command this great unit," Merritt said. "I see this command as a tremendous responsibility but more importantly as a privilege and an opportunity to serve.
"I thank my family and the many fine officers, non-commissioned officers and Soldiers, with whom I have served, that were so instrumental in my being here today."
"Gen. Collyar, sir, I thank you in advance for your leadership, expertise and mentorship in our time ahead. And to Col. Tom Keegan, I would especially like to thank you and your lovely wife, Laura, for making us feel so welcomed and for the gracious way in which they preformed the task of relinquishing command. You are truly first class and you professionalism is evident throughout the brigade. I wish you the best in your future assignments," Merritt said.
Speaking to the Soldiers of 59th in attendance, he said, "It is with great pride that I join your ranks. I will do all I can to live up to the challenges that we will face and to the demands of your high expectations."