By Mr. Robert H Mcelroy (IMCOM)June 21, 2010
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Lt. Col. Francesca Ziemba assumed command of U.S. Army Garrison Brussels, Belgium during a brief ceremony at the garrison on June 18.
Ziemba replaces Lt. Col. Darin S. Conkright who commanded Brussels Garrison since August 2007. She comes to the garrison from the Military Intelligence Center of Excellence at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
USAG Benelux commander Col. James P. Drago praised Conkright for his hard work and dedication to Soldiers and Families during his command.
"Three years ago Darin assumed command of this organization and he truly has been the right man at the right time in the right place," Drago said.
Drago said that although Brussels is a small garrison, no other commander in IMCOM has had to deal with the day to day complexities that Conkright has managed so well.
"He came here well prepared for this journey and he has exceeded all standards and expectations," Drago said.
Drago said that when he thinks of Conkright's command the following words come to mind-Maturity, energy, caring, leadership, mentorship, performance and professionalism.
"Darin, your energetic leadership, devotion, exemplary performance, genuine concern for your service members, Civilians and families has ensured total mission success and has distinguished you as a truly-professional leader, mentor and Soldier. You can look back at your achievements and take pride in them," Drago said.
Turning to Lori Conkright, Drago called her the true leader of the Brussels community.
"Now as good as Darin is we all know who really runs USAG Brussels. Lori, you will truly be missed. Your enthusiasm and community involvement have been tremendous and contagious," Drago said. "Your gracious smile and willingness to support every aspect of the USAG Brussels mission has contributed greatly to this community's performance and the overall great feeling one gets when one becomes a part of it."
Drago welcomed Ziemba and said she was embarking on one of the most challenging assignments of her career.
"I believe you are the right person to lead USAG Brussels into the future, he said. "I know you are going to do great things here and I thank you for accepting the challenge."
Conkright thanked Drago and Installation Management Command-Europe Region Director Diane M. Devens for the opportunity to command the garrison and their support throughout his tenure.
"Without your support and confidence many of our endeavors here would not have happened. I appreciate your guidance and candor during this assignment," Conkright said.
Conkright also thanked U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. David Peterson, the Brussels community coordinator, for his leadership and support.
"Brigadier General Petersen, your leadership to this community is invaluable. You make us a lot better and this community could not ask for better leadership," Conkright said.
Conkright praised and thanked Francis Vermeiren, the mayor of Zaventem, where the garrison lies.
"Of course, we couldn't do any of this without the great support of our host city, Zaventem," he said. "Mayor Vermeiren, you and your staff are the best. Whenever we asked for assistance, you were always there."
Conkright concluded with special thanks to his wife Lori, who he called "...the true hero in this community" who has dedicated countless hours to bringing it together.
"Lori, we thank you for all you have done for the community and being such a supportive wife and friend during this command," Conkright said.
Conkright offered a final nod to Ziemba.
"Ox, you are a class act and it's an honor to know you and especially an honor to pass the colors to you. I can't think of anyone better. Not that you will need it, but best of luck my friend."
Conkright's next assignment is as the assistant chief of staff at the NATO Special Operations Forces Headquarters in Casteau, Belgium.
Ziemba spoke briefly and thanked her husband, Army Col. Dwight L. DuQuesnay for his support and encouragement and Conkright for his excellent command.
She said that she was proud to take over the "finest garrison in the Army" and pledged to take it to new levels of excellence.
Ziemba is a 1991 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. She received the nickname "Ox" while a cadet there.
During her career she has served in Japan, Honduras, Korea, Hawaii, Fort Drum, N.Y., Fort Polk, La. and Fort Huachuca, Ariz. She also served with the Princeton University ROTC battalion.
Ziemba deployed to Uzbekistan and Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division from 2001 to 2002 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She deployed to Afghanistan from 2008-2009 as part of the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan.