PYEOUNGTAEK, KOREA - The 65th Medical Brigade and Medical Activity Command Korea (MEDDAC-K) bid farewell to the Brigade's command sergeant major and welcomed the incoming top enlisted leader during a change of responsibility ceremony, Sept. 18, at the Humphreys Morning Calm Conference Center under HPCON-Charlie conditions.
Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas M. Barone relinquished responsibility of the 65th Medical Brigade and MEDDAC-K to Command Sgt. Maj. Mark X. Riddick during the morning ceremony, which was hosted by the Brigade Commander, Col. Dave Zimmerman. The ceremony represented the pride, discipline and teamwork of the Brigade, while also fostering unit pride, esprit-de-corps, and preserving tradition.
Barone served as the brigade's senior enlisted advisor, not only as the principal advisor to the commander, but also to execute the commander's vision for the brigade.
Riddick comes to the brigade from Fort Jackson, S.C., having served as the senior enlisted advisor for the Moncrief Army Health Clinic.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Riddick, you have a tremendous reputation for leading soldiers and your diverse background and experiences make the ideal candidate to serve and lead this Brigade and I look forward to our time together,” said Zimmerman.
The commander continued those sentiments as he spoke by saying that behind every military ceremony there is a story. A recognition, a place, a change and always something significant.
“Our unit’s story is highlighted by the senior enlisted leaders and colors assembled today, representing our proud and heroic lineage,” said Zimmerman. “I am reminded of the countless noncommissioned officers who have fought, led, and pushed our Soldiers to achieve what they did not believe possible. That excellence reflects on their command sergeant major.”
During his remarks to the unit, Riddick stated that he was humbled and honored to assume the position.
“I believe that our role in this alliance is vitally important to the quality of life for our Soldiers and their families, the health and wellness of those Soldiers who presence along with our Republic of Korea partners serve as a deterrence and even more importantly to the survivability of our forces should the need arise," he said. "Nothing is as important as getting that right.”
Riddick said that he is committed to investing in the Soldiers, civilians, and their family members to training to develop the highest levels of readiness and growing and developing leaders of character.
“I am not an accessory, or figurehead, or simply a photo in your support channel,” Riddick continued. “I will be accessible, approachable, an advocate and supporter with the intent of this organization fulfilling its purpose on the peninsula.”
Riddick brings the breadth of leadership and experience the unit needs to continue along a path of increased readiness while sustaining the medical mission command and Armistice Health Services Support and Force Health Protection mission and Alliance partnerships across the peninsula.
The ceremony was also a two-fold ceremony in that it not only signified the changing of responsibility for the organizations, but honored a Soldier, Barone, who gave 29 years of his life in defense of a nation as a retirement ceremony was held immediately following.
Zimmerman spoke highly of Barone’s achievements throughout his career, leaving the United States Army better than when he entered it.
“(Barone’s) milestones include starting the first pilot home station paramedic program for the Army at Vanderbilt University, re-establishing compensation and pension exams in partnership with the Veterans Affairs office and the BDAACH (Brian D. Allgood Army Community Hospital), which brought back a service to the Korean peninsula that was absent for many months," Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman also thanked Shannon Barone, Command Sgt. Maj. Barone’s wife, who could not attend the event, but viewed virtually via social media.
“(Her) impacts on the Army are not forgotten, from coordinating the Multiple Sclerosis Walk for Life in Vicenza Italy, leading all family readiness groups at all levels, all while holding the family together, sacrificing and raising the children (during deployments),” Zimmerman said.
The Pacific Medic family presented virtual a certificate of appreciation to Mrs. Barone.
Despite being overwhelmed with emotion, Barone took to the podium for his last address in uniform.
“This has been one heck of ride over the past 30 months serving in this dual-hatted command,” said Barone. “The experience has been such an amazing opportunity to both execute a ‘Fight Tonight’ mission and day-to-day armistice health care mission to over 60,000 beneficiaries on the peninsula.”
This was not the first time that Riddick has replaced Barone.
“The Army works in mysterious ways, as Riddick replaced me as a first sergeant at the AMEDD NCO Academy 10 years ago,” said Barone. “Today, he is replacing me as command sergeant major. And I can tell you that he is the right person for this job and is fully ready for this next chapter in the unit’s history.”
In closing the final chapter of his Army career, Barone stated that he has no regrets, doubts or worries and is looking forward to his retirement in Clarksville, Tenn., with his family, grandkids and his dogs, also known as 'the three amigos': Sargie-Poos, Teddie-Teds and Barky-Barks.