FORT GREGG-ADAMS, Va. – It's not often an advanced individual training Soldier returns to his old stomping grounds to command the very brigade that trained him.
Col. David L. Thompson was that AIT Soldier – specifically a 76C equipment records and parts specialist (now 92A automated logistical specialist). Thirty-two years later, he formally took charge of the 23rd Quartermaster Brigade, during a change of command ceremony Friday at the Ordnance Training Support Facility.
Thompson replaced Col. Toni M. Rieke, who has been commander since June 24, 2021.
Quartermaster General, Col. Jin H. Pak, who is only three weeks into his new position, officiated the ceremony held in the OTSF’s brightly lit exhibit space amidst its large and assorted inventory of vintage and modern vehicles.
Other dignitaries in attendance included Lionel G. Campos, deputy chief of staff, CASCOM; Keith R. Orage, deputy to the commandant, QM School; Col. Eldred K. Ramtahal, commander, 59th Ordnance Brigade; and Col. James Hoyman, Garrison commander.
At the lectern during his remarks, Pak shared with the audience Thompson’s journey from Mike Company, 266th QM Battalion student to brigade commander.
I’ll bet when he was a private taking orders from his drill sergeants, he had no earthly idea that he would come back to be brigade commander,” Pak quipped. “Thankfully none of those drill sergeants are still around … At least I don’t think so because he’s back and he’s in charge.”
The comment drew a smattering of chuckles from the crowd.
On a more serious note, Pak said Thompson is more than fit to assume his new duties.
“As you can see by his bio, David is an accomplished, battle-tested leader,” he said. “He’s served at every echelon of command and staff and has proven himself time and time again.”
Thompson is a Liberty University Doctor of Education and served as commander, 832nd Ordnance Battalion here as well as deputy director, G3/5 Operations, Plans and Strategy Directorate, CASCOM, according to the event’s program.
During his speech, Thompson thanked a long list of supporters. He also mentioned how vital the Dragon Brigade and QM School staffs and faculties are to training and educating troops. He made special note of noncommissioned officers, who he said are “the center of gravity” in the process of Soldier development.
Thompson comes to the schoolhouse from the U.S. Transportation Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
During her two-year tenure, the outgoing commander, Rieke, graduated more than 30,000 AIT students, Pak said.
“Under her leadership she transformed civilian volunteers into fit, competent and disciplined Soldiers ready to join their assigned units and execute their mission,” he said. “Throughout her tenure, the 23rd Quartermaster Brigade emphasized that all leaders must take responsibility at every level … so that new troops are ready on day one.”
Rieke, a former professor of military science at Missouri State University, thanked her family for their support between intermittent tears and pauses. She also thanked the leadership for the opportunity to command and all who made her time here productive.
“Nothing I have done has gotten me here today; being part of winning teams is why I’m here,” she said. “The Dragon team is a winning team and a team of teams. Service members never serve alone, and the family is always a part of the team. And they feel the impact of our duties and responsibilities. We’re not successful without the unconditional love from our families and our friends. Thank you to my family and friends for providing the support over the last two years and deciding to be a part of the journey.”
Rieke acknowledged she pushed her staff to uncomfortable heights, but in doing so, they accomplished much, she said, speaking directly to them.
“Your focus on taking care of Soldiers is second to none,” said Rieke. “We moved Soldiers to gaining units within 72 hours of graduation; we trained Soldiers through a pandemic without degrading the programs of instruction; built a climate of dignity and respect with our Legacy 23 – leaders encouraging greatness, where we were investing in future leaders who were focused on changing culture. The impact was not just local but impacting our Army as we changed individuals to combat harmful behaviors.”
Rieke went on to mention other achievements such as a successful Holiday Block Leave in which thousands of students departed the installation in late December and returned during the first week of the new year; improvements made to brigade’s reception company; the implementation of new personnel record systems; and the support of hometown recruiting programs, among others.
“It’s been a great ride,” she concluded. “I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Rieke’s next assignment will take her to Turkey for an unspecified position.