CAMP ZAMA, Japan (July 20, 2021) – Col. Christopher L. Tomlinson took over command of U.S. Army Garrison Japan from Col. Thomas R. Matelski during a change-of-command ceremony held July 20 on Camp Zama, Japan.
In his remarks, Tomlinson said it was an honor and privilege to be taking command of a great organization such as USAG Japan, and he pledged to earn the trust and respect of its team members as he and they worked to accomplish the unit’s mission.
“This team will get my very best to bring purpose to our mission,” Tomlinson said. “I am committed to excellence in our execution, and promise the energy and enthusiasm in sustaining that standard.”
Hosting the event and serving as the reviewing officer was Craig L. Deatrick, the director of Installation Management Command – Pacific. During his remarks, Deatrick commended Matelski’s leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[Matelski] helped shepherd the [USAG Japan] community through the associated challenges, building a robust and effective communications strategy [and] helping keep Soldiers, families and civilians safe and informed on the latest guidance and direction,” Deatrick said. “And despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, Colonel Matelski consistently improved relationships with [the] senior leaders and foreign dignitaries of Japan.”
Matelski, who took command of USAG Japan in July 2019, reflected on his time spent leading the unit, remarking that he was “truly honored” to have worked with the garrison’s 3,000 team members and their families.
“Although my time in command has been one of the most difficult of my career, it has also been the most rewarding,” Matelski said. “The country of Japan and the Japanese people have taught me so much. I’ve been all over the world in my Army career … but I’ve never found a culture and people that my family and I have enjoyed so much.”
In his nearly three-decade career in the Army, Tomlinson has served at duty stations such as Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Baumholder, Germany; Wackernheim, Germany; Fort Huachuca, Arizona; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Fort Belvoir, Virginia; and multiple deployments to Iraq.
Some of Tomlinson’s awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star Medal.
Matelski will go on to serve as the chief of the Civil Affairs Planning Team, J9, at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii.