FORT KNOX, Ky. – Brig. Gen. Eric P. Shirley assumed command of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command from outgoing Commander Maj. Gen. Michel M. Russell Sr., during a ceremony, June 23, 2023.
Lt. Gen. Patrick D. Frank, commanding general, U.S. Army Central, served as the reviewing officer for the ceremony, presenting Russell with the Order of Saint Maurice Medal prior to the change of command.
“Michel is an incredible officer,” Frank said. “I am proud to be here today and present this award for his outstanding contributions to the Infantry.”
Russell was then honored by the State of Kentucky and presented a certificate inducting him into the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the Governor and is in recognition of an individual’s noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to the community, state, and nation.
“It is my honor to preside over this transition between two outstanding officers,” Frank said, while specifically acknowledging the families who travelled to Fort Knox for the ceremony.
Frank then lauded Russell’s wife Sieglinde for her constant support of the Army mission. “Thank you for all you’ve done for our Soldiers and families across the Army.”
He went on to describe the mission of the 1st TSC and how the 10,000 Soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians ensure the U.S. Central Command warfighters have the equipment, supplies, and transportation capabilities they need to accomplish their mission.
“The 1st TSC is a sustainment organization that enables the United States Army to be the dominant land power. No other Army in the world has this type of expeditionary capability,” Frank explained.
Frank then shared a story about Russell and what makes him a world-class sustainer.
“Maj. Gen. Russell and I accompanied General Kurilla (CENTCOM Commander) on one of his first trips to theater. The most significant stop we made was to the Port of Yanbu in Western Saudi Arabia.
“As a world-class sustainer, Michel described to the CENTCOM commander how 1st TSC would operate the Port of Yanbu, and multiple other ports across the region, and under combat conditions, providing the combatant commander with the combat force and sustainment capabilities required to win in battle.
Frank closed by welcoming the new commander and his family. “Brig. Gen. Eric Shirley arrives to 1st TSC after successfully commanding the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, supporting Soldiers worldwide,” he said.
Russell thanked Frank for the kind words and offered his heartfelt appreciation to everyone who helped organize the ceremony. He praised the Soldiers, civilians, families, and all of 1st TSC, adding that he was grateful for having the honor and privilege to lead them.
“It was an honor serving with you,” added Russell.
He also thanked everyone at ARCENT, his senior enlisted advisors, the Fort Knox community, and the individual subordinate unit commanders and command sergeants major who he served with over the past two years in command.
As the ceremony reached its conclusion, it was Shirley’s first chance to address the crowd as the new commander of the 1st TSC.
He thanked Russell for leading the team to incredible heights. “It was an honor and a privilege to watch you from afar,” said Shirley.
“I’ve benefited from a great transition from not only you, but your staff.”
He wished Russell and his family well in their retirement and thanked him for his mentorship and handing over a great organization to him.
Finally, Shirley thanked his family and guests for their support and looked optimistically toward what lies ahead.
“There is no place I’d rather be than with the First Team, supporting the grateful nations across ARCENT.”
Music for the ceremony was provided by the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Band, and the cannon salute battery was provided by the 1st Infantry Division who provided a 13-cannon salute. The unit mascot, a live mule named Blackjack, was present for attendees to meet and photograph.