CHIÈVRES AIR BASE, Belgium – U.S. Army Garrison Benelux bade farewell to one commander and welcomed a new one during a ceremony at Chièvres Air Base, July 15, 2022.
Col. James R. Yastrzemsky relinquished command of USAG Benelux to Col. Lindsay “Riley” Matthews.
Tommy R. Mize, director of Installation Management Command – Europe, presided over the event, and outlined some of the complexities of USAG Benelux and its missions, including how the garrison is spread over four communities in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
Mize talked about how the garrison supports several key headquarters and organizations, such as Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, the two U.S. missions to NATO and the European Union, Allied Joint Forces Command Brunssum and more. He also highlighted the Army Prepositioned Stock (APS) sites at Zutendaal, Belgium; Eygelshoven and Brunssum, the Netherlands; and Dülmen, Germany; and the sites’ support to training events and recent operations following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Leading an organization that’s responsible for integrating and delivering exceptional [base operation] services to these key units and performing this critical mission for our nation across this diverse, multination, geographically dispersed footprint requires a very, very special kind of commander,” said Mize. “And fortunately for us, we’ve had exactly that special kind of commander leading this community and command over the course of the last two years. Colonel Yaz’s high energy, focus and determination and his performance leading this garrison over the course of the past two years is simply unmatched.”
Mize talked about the accomplishments of the garrison during Yastrzemsky’s tenure in command, which began in the summer of 2020. Some recent accomplishments include the Chièvres Air Fest and that the garrison earned the title “Best Garrison in IMCOM-Europe” for 2021.
“Yaz genuinely cares for everybody he leads and everybody he serves,” Mize said. “We often say that people are our most important priority. And I’ve never seen a commander that takes that onboard more than Yaz has. He’s internalized this idea that people are the number one priority, and he’s instituted programs here in the Benelux that have made this a reality.
Yastrzemsky thanked the workforce for their support and dedication during his command.
“You guys have won,” Yastrzemsky said. “You provided quality services and infrastructure to the community, and you enabled readiness of U.S. Army Europe and Africa, NATO, and EUCOM amidst a global pandemic all the while. … I’m damned proud of you.”
Yastrzemsky is scheduled to become the director of the Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
To represent the transfer of command, Yastrzemsky received the garrison colors from USAG Benelux Command Sgt. Maj. Gary E. Yurgans. He then passed the colors to Mize, representing the formal end of Yastrzemsky’s command of the garrison. Matthews then accepted the colors from Mize, thus beginning her tenure as garrison commander.
Matthews began her military career by commissioning into the U.S. Army Chemical Corps in May 1999 after graduating from Villanova University in Pennsylvania. She served in many leadership and staff positions throughout her career in the Republic of Korea; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; West Point, New York; Clarksville, Tennessee; and Stuttgart, Germany.
She has deployed to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom; to Louisiana in 2005 in support of Operation Katrina; and to Logar Province in Afghanistan in support of OEF.
Matthews’ most recent assignment was as the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear plans officer for U.S. Army Forces Command headquarters at Fort Bragg.
Mize outlined some of Matthews’ accomplishments and spoke directly to her during his remarks.
“Riley, we’re glad that you’ve joined us here at the Installation Management Command Europe,” Mize said. “You’re the right leader, without a doubt, at the right time to come into this complex garrison and continue to lead it forward. And I look forward to serving with you and supporting you while you are here in this command.”
Matthews spoke about her and her family’s excitement at being at the garrison.
“We absolutely embrace this gift that we’ve received of working with such an extraordinary, multinational team of talented, passionate civilians, Soldiers, communities in this amazing, beautiful region of the world,” Matthews said. “I’m humbled by the opportunity to command this fine organization.”