ZAGAN, Poland –The 82nd Brigade Engineer (Blue Babe) Battalion (82 BEB), 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division had a change of command in Zagan, Poland, Jan. 23, 2023.
The ceremony was held to honor Lt. Col. Jodie L. Kunkel, the outgoing commander and Lt. Col. Rolland H. Johnson, the incoming commander.
When first arriving at the “Blue Babe” battalion Kunkel said that her number one priority was to “nurture the “golden triangle”, leaders, friends, and families, referencing the story of “Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox”.
“The leaders are Paul from the story,” said Kunkel. “They find us, get to know us, and they give us purpose; we are Babe, super-human, able to accomplish the mission, but sometimes stubborn and sometimes lost; and Bessy is our family and friends who provide us with the motivation to do what we do.”
During her speech, Kunkel addressed the formation one last time.
“As I transfer “Blue Babe” to Lt. Col. Johnson, I leave you with this,” said Kunkel. “Continue to take care of each other and the unit, and always remember that you matter; “Blue Babe” six signing off the net.”
Kunkel’s next assignment is to be the Counter Explosives Hazard Center director in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Johnson comes to the “Blue Babe” battalion with various staff and command experience from both Armored Brigade Combat Teams and Stryker Brigades.
During his career, Johnson commanded E Company, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss, Texas, deploying with them in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and most recently, upon deploying with the 1st Infantry Division to Poland held the position as the division engineer in support of Operation Assure, Deter and Reinforce.
Johnson began his speech by thanking the attendees and addressing his formation for the first time as their commander.
“To the Soldiers and families of the ‘Blue Babe’ battalion,” said Johnson. “You have trained hard to get to this point; I look forward to serving with you, getting to know your families, and giving you absolutely everything that I have.”
Continuing with his speech, Johnson reminded the Soldiers and attendees of the rich history behind the 82 BEB and what that means as he takes on his new role as “Blue Babe” Six.
“I am honored to extend this storied legacy and to successfully lead the ‘Blue Babes’ in our next chapter in Poland and wherever else we are called,” said Johnson. “Duty First, Ready Now, Strength and Courage.”