CHIÈVRES, Belgium – U.S. Army Garrison Benelux bade one command sergeant major farewell and welcomed another during a sunny change of responsibility ceremony Nov. 5 in front of the garrison headquarters building at Chièvres Air Base.
Command Sgt. Maj. Katrina M. Herzfeld handed off a sword to Col. James Yastrzemsky, garrison commander, officially relinquishing Herzfeld’s responsibility, and Command Sgt. Maj. Gary E. Yurgans accepted the sword, officially assuming his responsibility.
Yastrzemsky, who presided over the ceremony, highlighted the strides the garrison has made in its lines of effort during Herzfeld’s tenure. The garrison saw successes in infrastructure, services and protection. The garrison further enabled the Army Prepositioned Stock Site mission at three locations in three countries. He attributed success to Herzfeld, especially in regard to the garrison’s first line of effort: people.
“You just genuinely care for others, and you make time for anyone that asks for it, and for that I’m grateful,” Yastrzemsky said. “You provided outstanding support not only to our garrison team, not just to the Soldiers in front of us, to our civilians.
“You deliberately invested personal time in the development of our teammates, individually and at the group level,” he continued. “And even in your last days as command sergeant major, driving … across the Benelux to say your farewells to our team, (you) spent quality time, time after hours trying to develop and mentor.”
Herzfeld is moving to Fort Belvoir, Virginia to become the G1 (personnel) command sergeant major for U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command.
During her remarks, Herzfeld thanked many and reflected on her time at the garrison. In a joking preamble, she said she would not miss many of the traffic snares endemic to rural Belgium nor to Dutch roundabouts. She then enunciated what she was losing by leaving.
“I will miss coming to work each day and being part of a team that gives it all,” she said. “I will miss being part of the history of U.S. relations with three great nations. Most importantly, I will miss all of you. There are too many names, which is why I have tried to say goodbye personally over the last few days and will continue to do so until I leave.
“Every time that I looked back on my time here, I kept thinking of my teammates here in the garrison,” she continued. “I knew deep in my heart it is who and what I would miss the most.”
Herzfeld then directed her remarks to Yurgans.
“I wish you the best of luck,” she said to him and his Family. “This is a great place to be stationed. The Benelux is lucky to have you.”
Yurgans enlisted as an Army musician in 1994 and has served as squad leader, platoon sergeant, detachment leader, Army training requirements and resources noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC), drill sergeant, first sergeant and command sergeant major. He has served with several Army bands, has supported operations Safe Haven and Safe Passage in Panama, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
“You come with a breadth and depth of experience with far-reaching operational and tactical assignments,” said Yastrzemsky during his remarks. “I’ve no doubt that you are going to enhance our lines of effort and continue to move the ball forward in stellar Benelux fashion.”
Yurgans during his remarks spoke to members of the SHAPE International Band, who performed the ceremonial music.
“Thank you for your talents and professionalism that you provide daily, instilling the will to fight and win and providing that vital esprit-de-corps for our forces,” he said. “You all sound great and make me proud to have been part of your profession for the majority of my career.”
During his remarks, Yurgans cited as impressive some of the recent collaborative accomplishments of the garrison, including the Chièvres Air Fest and Trunk-or-Treat across three garrison communities.
“Being able to partake in these events and learn about this team’s mission in just a short time frame, I can truly say that I am very fortunate and humble to be part of this garrison,” he said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for me and my Family, and I look forward to being part of it and to serve with you all.
“Let’s continue the momentum of delivering readiness to the warfighter, support of our Families and to transform to become the European community and workplace of choice in the coming years,” Yurgans continued. “Quality is our model, delivery is our outcome. Sustain, support, defend: We deliver!”