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FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii – The 8th Special Troops Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Christian S. Newton relinquished command to Lt. Col. Pedro E. Fernandez during a change of command ceremony on Fort Shafter, Hawaii, April 19, 2023.

Newton assumed command in the summer of 2021 and helped return a sense of normalcy back to the organization after operating under COVID-19 restrictions.

Prior to the ceremony and in front of Soldiers, peers, friends and family members, the 8th Theater Sustainment Command Deputy Commanding Officer Col. Tracy Lanier presented Newton with the Meritorious Service Medal.

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During Newton's remarks, she elicited laughs for her jokes and held her emotions back as she closed her comments with heartfelt words of encouragement.

“Fifty percent of our population are senior leaders," said Newton. "In layman’s terms, these people are accustomed to doing their own thing. It takes a special grace to lead leaders. But I must say, it was a distinct honor and privilege to be your battalion commander.”

Newton's next assignment is a student at the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pa.

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Col. Margaret L. McGunegle, commander, 130th Engineer Brigade, presided over the ceremony and lauded Newton for her achievements while also welcoming Fernandez and his family.

“Much of the responsibility for the success of the TSC mission lies with their battalion commander," said McGunegle. "Lt. Col. Newtown expertly lead and developed her team. Lt. Col. Fernandez, I know you’ll bring your ideas and enthusiasm to the 8th Special Troops Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade and the 8th Theater Sustainment Command.”

Fernandez joins the 8th STB after serving as a brigade logistics officer and executive officer for the 5th Security Forces Assistant Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

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When Fernandez addressed the group, he acknowledged the Soldiers in formation, recognized Newton and her family for their exceptional turnover, and thanked his family for their continued support.

“I would like to thank the Always Ready Soldiers who are assembled before us today, you look awesome,” Fernandez said. “Thank you for the warm reception as my family and I prepare ourselves for this assignment. This has been the best reception I’ve experienced and from the beginning, my family and I feel proud of the STB Ohana.”

Over the next five months, Soldiers from 8th STB will deploy across the Indo-Pacific region to participate and support numerous Operation Pathways missions to help build combined readiness and enhance interoperability with partner nations.