FORT SNELLING, Minn. — Col. Noel Palmer, the commander of the 372nd Engineer Brigade, relinquished command to Col. Elliot Schroeder on Sept. 17 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, during a change of command ceremony.
The change of command ceremony is a military tradition that is rich with symbolism and heritage dating back to medieval times. Soldiers often carried staffs or standards into battle that identified them as a unit. Throughout military history, unit colors have marked the position of the commander on the battlefield and served as a rallying point. While attacking or rallying on the battlefield, Soldiers would follow the standard or guidons of their leader, most often found at the forward edges of the battle.
While speaking to the crowd, Maj. Gen Brian Miller the commanding general for the 416th Theater Engineer Command, thanked Palmer for his 40 months as the commander of the 372nd.
“Thank you, Col. Palmer, for your dedication and willingness to go above and beyond,” said Miller. “Col. Palmer has deployed seven companies … just tremendous. everything you have been doing. The list of accomplishments could go on and on. Not only is he outstanding in training and overseeing training but winning the [United States Army Reserve] Excellence in Safety Award in 2019 and 2020.”
Although the unit said goodbye to Palmer, they welcomed Schroeder who is a West Point graduate and earned his MBA from the University of California-San Diego.
“[Schroeder] served eight years on active duty, 25 total years, served in various countries South Korea, Kuwait, Turkey, Iraq [and] most recently he was serving with the Army Corps of Engineers Pacific Ocean Division Far East District, which is in South Korea,” Miller said.
Miller pointed out that Schroeder is a business owner and his latest job had been with Innovations Command where he linked universities with venture capitalist with Army labs on some of the newest, hardest problems that serve the military.
“It’s amazing to balance out what our key leaders do on the civilian side and the Army side,” he said. “We get a chance to take advantage of both.”
While addressing his former Soldier for the final time, Palmer recognized their hard work.
“I’ve been in command a while, and we often focus on the commander, and I understand why that happens,” explained Palmer. “It’s popular view of leadership, [which] is very leader centric. It’s the great woman or the great man and they lead the charge, and they make everything happen. You may believe that until you take command of a large formation and that’s just not the reality.”
Palmer thanked the Soldiers of the unit and his family for making his command a success.
“I appreciate everyone who has contributed and allowed this to be a wonderful experience for me and my Family over these past 40 plus months. Thanks to the Soldiers for everything you have done. I want to thank my Family — thanks for your love and support. Honestly, I wouldn’t be here without you. Timberwolves, it’s been a great tenure.”
While addressing his Soldiers for the first time as the brigade commander, Schroeder used that time to talk about the importance of remaining in the Army Reserve.
“There is a lot that’s going on with the Reserve right now, and you have the skills and the experience right now that will be great for the team,” he said. “It’s new challenges that we have ahead. We need to bring people in. You know great this brigade is, get the word out and bring people into us let’s make this a better brigade than it’s ever been.”
For more information on joining the Army Reserve, go to www.goarmy.com/reserve.