FORT POLK, La. — U.S. Army Garrison Fort Polk welcomed Col. Sam P. Smith Jr. as its new commander during a change of command ceremony June 18 at the installation’s Warrior Field, succeeding Col. Ryan K. Roseberry.
Brenda L. McCullough, director, Installation Management Command-Readiness, was the keynote speaker. McCullough is responsible for installation management activities at 24 active and Reserve component Army installations and joint bases located in 16 states, Puerto Rico and Honduras.
McCullough said the day’s traditional Army ceremony signifies the transition from one commander to the next.
“It’s a privilege to be a small part of this tradition as we salute Colonel Ryan Roseberry, an outstanding garrison commander, for a job well done, and celebrate the arrival of Colonel Samuel Smith to assume leadership of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Polk,” she said.
McCullough said the day is most likely filled with mixed emotions for Roseberry and his spouse, Rhonda.
“On one hand, command is an extraordinary professional opportunity and I am sure some part of you wants to lead the Fort Polk garrison,” she said. “On the other hand, you are heading to a new chapter in your life where new challenges are waiting. I am confident you will continue to excel at every challenge the Army gives you.”
Roseberry’s next assignment is commandant, European Command, Stuttgart, Germany.
McCullough highlighted the challenges faced by Roseberry during his tenure as garrison commander, including an Army-wide housing crisis, three hurricanes, two tornadoes, eight structural fires, winter storm Uri and a global COVID-19 pandemic.
“Colonel Roseberry met these (challenges) with his reasoned and calm approach,” she said. “He engaged with FEMA and other private organization’s representatives through Louisiana to make sure the installation was able to recover and establish services within days of each storm.”
She also spoke to Roseberry’s team-building strengths.
“Ryan’s strongest leadership competency is his ability to build cohesive and collaborative relationships with military and community leaders, stakeholders, federal partners and political representatives,” McCullough said. “I know the Fort Polk team will miss you Ryan. You have been their staunch advocate for improving Quality of Life and Family programs, and I thank you.”
McCullough then welcomed Smith on his return to Fort Polk. Smith is no stranger to the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk having served as the senior intelligence officer observer/controller and trainer. His most recent assignment was at the Pentagon as the executive officer to the Director of Defense Intelligence in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security.
“Colonel Samuel Smith is a proven leader,” she said. “He is ideally suited to lead the Fort Polk team as it supports the priorities and requirements set by (JRTC and Fort Polk commanding general) Brigadier General (David) Doyle and the IMCOM priorities set by Lieutenant General (Douglas) Gabram (IMCOM commanding general). You have my full support and that of my staff.”
Next to speak was Roseberry, who thanked the civilians and Soldiers of the JRTC and Fort Polk for their support during his time as commander.
“It has been a two-year cross-country sprint for all of us, along a trail full of obstacles and challenges,” he said. “But here we are today, better than we were just two years ago and on our way to even better days in the years to come.”
Roseberry listed planned Quality of Life construction and renovation projects for Fort Polk.
“Great change is underway, making Fort Polk a destination of choice for Soldiers and Families,” he said.
He echoed the weather and health challenges mentioned by McCullough.
“Yet here we are,” Roseberry said. “Fort Polk looks great and we continue to move forward.”
Roseberry congratulated Smith and said the Fort Polk command is comprised of the best people he would ever meet.
“I know you will take care of them, because they will do everything possible to take care of you and Soldiers and Families under your care,” he said.
Last to speak was Smith, who congratulated Roseberry on the accomplishments achieved under his leadership during the past two unique and challenging years.
“The garrison and installation teams have been outstanding and are seasoned and true professionals,” he said. “I have big shoes to fill, but I’m ready to start.”
After thanking his Family members, friends and mentors for their support through the years, he addressed his new command.
“We will be successful if we can do just two things moving forward,” he said. “Be inclusive and listen. The guiding principal of our team will be people, and to treat everyone with dignity and respect.”