By Ms. Rachel Newton (AMC)August 17, 2009
Storms and rain forced change of command activities for the Pine Bluff Chemical Activity inside the Arsenal Recreation Services Center July 14 as Lt. Col. Cliff R. Johnston, outgoing PBCA commander, passed the command colors to incoming commander Lt. Col. Nathaniel W. Farmer.
David Morrow, PBCA director of risk assessment and narrator, welcomed everyone to the ceremony, introduced the official party and gave a brief history of the Activitity, which was established on Feb. 6, 1995. PBCA is responsible for the chemical mission operations at the Pine Bluff Arsenal including stockpile storage, the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, treaty compliance, support to the chemical disposal program and non-stockpile chemical program.
Butch Reeves, PBCA operating officer, gave the invocation, wishing the Johnston family farewell and giving the Farmer family a welcome. "Heavenly Father, we thank you for your love, your mercy and grace. Lord, we pray for your blessings on them. We ask that you be with the Johnstons as they travel to their next duty station. We pray that you will watch over the Farmers, blessing them and protecting them," said Reeves.
Conrad F. Whyne, director of the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency, presented a Meritorious Service Medal to Johnston, and presented the Commander's Award of Public Service to Vicki Johnston, for her outstanding support and service and dedication during her husband's tour of duty here at Pine Bluff. Flowers were also presented to Vicki in appreciation of her support to the U.S. Army, and to Nicole Farmer, wife of Lt. Col. Farmer, and Lula Farmer, his mother to welcome them into the CMA family.
As the colors were passed from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander, Morrow read that the colors being used in the ceremony symbolize the heritage of the U.S. Army, CMA and PBCA.
"The change of command is appropriately symbolized by passing the organizational colors from outgoing commander thru the senior commander to the new commander," he said. "Through the passing of the organizational colors, the senior commander empowers the new commander with the essential authority, responsibility, and trust required to accomplish the mission of his new command."
"It is always a pleasure to be in your company here at Pine Bluff," said Whyne. "I would like to thank the community leaders for being here today and supporting the great Army tradition of change of command. Your support of the mission here is greatly appreciated and is instrumental in its success."
Whyne recalled just a few months prior when he presented a prestigious safety award from the U.S. Army Materials Command to PBCA - the first of its kind. "It was a wonderful moment to present this award to an organization deserving of such distinction. I felt very proud that day," he said. "I was proud to be associated with the exceptional men and women who make every mission here so successful."
Johnston said that it was a great day to be at the Pine Bluff Arsenal and a great day to be in the U.S. Army. "This has been the Johnston family home for the past two years. We have enjoyed it tremendously," he said, as he addressed the Farmer family. "I promise that this tour is one you will never forget."
He mentioned several moments of success for PBCA, as well as times of sorrow with the passing of employees and family members. "As I began preparing for this morning, I thought about my time here. It wasn't my largest command. It wasn't my most exciting command," said Johnston. "But, it was a significant command because of the mission, and the people I have worked with and met."
Farmer, a native of Kentucky, thanked the employees of PBA and PBCA for spending the morning with the Johnston and Farmer families. "It is with great honor and anticipation that I have been chosen as the commander of the Pine Bluff Chemical Activity. I am up for the challenge to take this organization to the next level," he said.
Farmer and his wife, Nicole, have two sons, Nicholas and Nigel.
The ceremony concluded with the playing of the Army Song and a reception for the Farmers at the PBCA Treaty Building.