JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va.— The 597th Transportation Brigade welcomed Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Skelton during a Change of Responsibility ceremony at Magnolia Park at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. June 10.
The event marked the relinquishment of responsibility and authority from outgoing Command Sgt. Maj. Lonnie Gabriel, according to Lt. John Lowe, executive officer, 832nd Transportation Battalion. Lowe served as the narrator and led the invocation.
As Command Sergeant Major of the 597th Transportation Brigade, Gabriel was the face of the organization and oversaw close to 200,000 pieces of cargo movements, said Col. Jeremy St. Laurent, commander, 597th Transportation Brigade.
Gabriel dedicated countless hours to managing Soldier issues, vising Soldiers, traveling to geographically dispersed units, supporting port operations. In addition, Gabriel supported events such as the NCO and Soldier of the Quarter Board, showing up on his bicycle at 2 a.m. to see the ruck march kick-off and check on the road guards and Soldiers manning the hydration stations during the event.
During his remarks, Gabriel looked back at major events with operational impacts on port operations in the past 24 months, including a global pandemic, the worst year of hurricanes on record, major tropical storms, the withdrawal in Afghanistan and multiple deployments to the European Command area of operations in support of NATO allies.
Gabriel signed off by thanking his wife for coaching and mentoring him, his children, family, God, Deputy Commander John Hanson, Brigade Secretary Chris Shipley, the headquarters staff and the Total Force team of Surface Warriors.
Then, Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Skelton addressed the brigade.
"Today marks a new chapter in the already historic lineage of the 597th Transportation Brigade and I am honored to take on this responsibility… to push, challenge, learn, guide and mentor you as we embark on our journey to sustain the warfighter," Skelton said.
Skelton added that he is honored and excited to partner with the local community and develop an NCO corps of the future that is fit, disciplined and focused on This is My Squad.
After the ceremony, the Soldiers in formation were treated to a cupcake reception hosted by Skelton and his Family.
Supporting Staff: The event was supported by the 597th Transportation Bde. Operations Section. Operations Officer Sgt. First Class Brendan Allen served as the NCOIC of the formation. Sgt. First Class Terri Francois was the Keeper of the Colors. Spc. Victor Vasquez and Sgt. Laureano served as ushers. Soldiers assigned to the 832nd Transportation Bn. provided the Color Guard. The medical tent was manned by Army Medical Command.