Col. Craig A. Martin will officially turn over command of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hamilton to Col. Brian A. Jacobs during a change of command ceremony scheduled for July 12, 2022.
Martin took command of Fort Hamilton in July 2020, notably, during the widespread COVID-19 outbreak. He ensured the Army mission continued by leading the garrison’s pandemic response, enabling inventive solutions to the COVID-19 problem throughout the command, such as online meetings and learning, staggered training or work hours, and outdoor engagements. He also enforced local Fort Hamilton, Department of Defense and Army travel bans, mask, and vaccine updates when applicable, keeping Fort Hamilton’s doors open while ensuring the safety and health of its Soldiers and civilians. In addition to many other notable accomplishments, he continued to foster partnerships and strengthen ties with the community despite the continuous uncertainty of the pandemic.
On the occasion of his departure, Martin agreed to an interview as an opportunity to reflect on his time with the Fort Hamilton team:
What do you think is the legacy you left behind here?
“I’m not sure that I can so boldly claim a legacy, I am though immensely proud of our garrison staff for their resilience and dedicated efforts to ensure service delivery and the care for our community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We have a great team that truly looks out for each other and who often came up with innovative ways to ensure that we could accomplish our mission.”
What was your impression of Fort Hamilton before you arrived here, and what was that impression based on?
“Honestly, I hardly knew anything at all about it. I had never spent any real time in New York City, so I didn’t really know what to expect!”
What surprised you the most as a commander when you first arrived?
“I was impressed by a few things. First, the people are so much friendlier than portrayed in the movies and media. They may be tough, but they are also kind, compassionate, and patriotic. The post itself is a gem! With the slower pace and the amount of greenspace, you almost forget you’re in the city; the noise from the bridge reminds you were you are though!”
What have you learned by your experience here?
“I have learned a great deal about New York City of course, but I am quite impressed with the professional workforce we have with Installation Management Command. Every Army garrison is different, yet our Team knows what they are doing and they combine the right balance of technical acumen with their personal touch. By extension, this Team has helped reinforce my belief in how important it is to build a strong culture of trust. We really could accomplish a great deal working this way.”
What were some of the most memorable moments about your tour here?
“We had so many great opportunities to enjoy our time here: celebrating the Army’s birthday in Times Square; fireworks on the 4th of July here on post; ringing the closing bell on Wall Street; awarding WWII veterans their long overdue medals; but without a doubt, the best day I had in command was the day we renamed our main thoroughfare after 1st Lt. John E. Warren Jr., a Vietnam veteran and the recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. It was truly a moving experience for me, and I am thrilled that we could accomplish this while I was here.”
What was your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?
“We certainly had some difficult days, but I knew that I could always count on this great Team to accomplish the mission. Ultimately, my greatest challenge was probably my lack of knowledge on how Army garrisons run. I needed to be able to confidently lead our Team but also have a clue about what we did. This really just took some dedicated learning, a lot of reading, asking questions, and listening. I’m grateful for everyone’s patience!”
What advice do you have for Col. Jacobs?
“Well, I know that Col Jacobs is absolutely ready for this command and he will do an excellent job. I’d quote Field Marshall William Slim and say, ‘He just needs to be himself, because no imitation was ever a masterpiece.’ I am certain that he will lead Fort Hamilton with distinction!”
What will you miss about Fort Hamilton?
“Without a doubt, the people. We are going to continue to live here but I will be working in the city. I hope that I will be able to see the garrison Team from time to time. I’m proud of them and they truly have made command a fantastic experience for me.”
Martin will be transitioning to work with the DoD, Defense Coordinating Element for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This element is a robust military liaison cell to support FEMA Region II, which includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Following that assignment, he hopes to head back to his home state, Texas.