FORT HOOD, Texas -- During a change of command ceremony held in front of the headquarters building here, Dec. 14, leaders from across Fort Hood and First Army gathered to say farewell to Maj. Gen. Frank Tate and to welcome Maj. Gen. Richard Johnson.
Lt. Gen. Thomas James, First Army commanding general and reviewing officer for the ceremony, spoke at the event about both the outgoing and incoming commanders.
James said he was proud to have served with Tate.
“It is often said in the Army that someone has been the right person in the right place at the right time,” James said. “I’ll echo that about Frank Tate being at Division West during these intensely challenging times.”
“I say that professionally, but I’ll say also say it on a deeply personal note,” James explained. “It’s been one of the honors of my career to serve with someone who’s devoted and selfless as Frank.
Tate and Johnson, the incoming commander, are colleagues who have served together before and know each other well. Tate heartily endorsed the selection of Johnson as the new Division West commander.
“For all of Division West, there are a couple things I want to say about my good friend Maj. Gen. Rich Johnson, because frankly, the good news is that you are trading up,” Tate said during the ceremony. “I can say that with all sincerity, because I have had the great fortune to serve with Rich in combat where he was serving as the commander of Regional Command-Southeast in Afghanistan, a particularly challenging piece of terrain in Afghanistan.
“I was serving as the senior advisor to Afghan Minister of Defense and the Chief of Staff of the Afghan Army. And in that function I was able to travel with the Minister of Defense … all over Afghanistan to every corner, and see all of our formations through the eyes of our allies,” Tate explained. “Both our Afghan allies and our other NATO allies across the country. Although I was impressed with what I saw in all those corners and the amazing service of our Soldiers, I can tell you that nobody had built the kind of rapport and the trust, and the respect as a warrior and advisor and leader as Rich Johnson.
“So he is not only respected by his fellow general officers and officers in U.S. Army, but he was respected and admired by our NATO partners, our Afghan partners and those with whom we fought alongside day in and day out, and I can tell you he is a warrior,” Tate said.
“He is common sensed,” Tate said. “He’s hard, he’s tough and he is always looking for a solution. He’s pragmatic, and he gets things done. That is exactly what is needed for this challenging job at Div. West and across First Army.”
Johnson thanked Tate for his service to the nation and for his friendship.
“Congratulations to Maj. Gen. Tate and Beverly as they start the next chapter of their life,” Johnson said. “Frank, you have succeeded and excelled in every place that you have served. More importantly, you have left an indelible stamp on every Soldier and every leader fortunate enough to serve under your command or alongside you.”
Johnson hopes to use his experience as a National Guard Soldier to the benefit of First Army and the Soldier the unit will mobilize.
“It’s not lost on me that my selection for this command as a Guardsman is pretty significant for many reasons, and that much is expected of me.” Johnson explained. “I hope to apply my experience as a traditional Guardsman, who has managed the multiple competing responsibilities of family, school and simultaneous civil and military careers.”
Tate’s decision to retire after 33 years of service was brought about due to health concerns from fighting cancer.
“As you have heard, I had some health challenges this year and collapsed,” Tate explained. “While up at Rock Island Arsenal and spent some time in a coma and went through a series of other things”
“We did make a decision to retire early,” Tate said of his and his wife’s decision. “You heard of all the different deployments over the years, and all those times, Beverly stepped back and took second place to the Army and to the mission. But when this cancer came on, it was clearly time for Beverly to step to the front and to be more of a priority for our family. So we have purchased a home back in Hawaii after our three tours in the 25th Infantry Division, that feels like home, and I am going to make sure that we are set up there and Beverly is taken care of because of the way that she has taken care of me and taken care of our Soldiers and families over all these years. It’s time for you to be number one, Beverly.”