Col. Sherry Keller assumed command of Anniston Army Depot from Col. Alexander Raulerson in an outdoor Change of Command ceremony on Aug. 16. Keller is the depot's 31st commander and first female commander.

Maj. Gen. William Lenaers, commanding general of the United States Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command presided over the ceremony, as more than 700 family members, friends, and employees looked on. Additionally, numerous local and state dignitaries to include U. S. Congressman Mike Rogers, 3rd Congressional District; State Representative Barbara Boyd; Brig. Gen. Joe Harkey, commander, 167th Theater Sustainment Command; Calhoun County commissioners; and Chamber of Commerce officials were also in attendance.

Music was provided by the U.S. Army Materiel Command Band, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. Thelma McCullough narrated the event and John James delivered the invocation, both depot employees. The color guard was comprised of Soldiers from the U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Life Cycle Command from Redstone Arsenal, under the direction of Capt. Anthony Hughley.

The Change of Command ceremony is a time-honored event preserved by the rich heritage of Army tradition. It is a formal custom that is designed to strengthen respect of authority, which is vital to any military organization.

Following the ceremonial Assumption of Command Orders, the passing of the depot flag was carried out, with Depot Sgt. Maj. Gregory Williams participating with Raulerson, Lenaers and Keller in the traditional handoff.

TACOM CG speaks to crowd

Lenaers then addressed the assembly, commenting on Raulerson's outstanding leadership during his three-year assignment at the depot. He especially lauded Raulerson's efforts to lead more than 6,000 civilians, tenants, contractors and partners to meet the changing needs of America and America's Army.

"I am pleased to say that he has empowered the entire workforce to take committed ownership of their operations," he said, "using lean six sigma techniques and continuous process improvements as they accomplished their mission faster and with higher quality." He encouraged Keller in her new command and commended the workforce for their commitment to excellence.

Outgoing commander bids farewell

Raulerson, as the outgoing commander, reflected on the opportunity he had to serve with "the finest, most capable, most patriotic, and hardest working professionals who are the reason that our customers and supported units of all military services have the utmost confidence in the performance of the equipment we deliver, on or ahead of schedule, at or below cost, and at every increasing quality. Sherry brings with her a great vision and a wealth of experience and without a doubt she will clearly take this organization to even greater levels of success."

Prior to the ceremony in a separate presentation, Raulerson was honored with awards from the Team at the Integrated Logistics Support Center and PM-HBCT, TACOM. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Medal of Alabama and the Legion of Merit. His wife, Choi, was presented the Commander's Award for Public Service.

Raulerson heads off to the Army Materiel Command in Ft. Belvior, Va., to serve as the Director of Maintenance Management.

Incoming commander responds

A Virginia native, Keller, comes to the depot from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Her military schooling includes the Ordnance Officer's Basic and Advanced courses, the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical School, the Combined Arms Services Staff School, the Support Operations Course, and Command and General Staff College, and the Senior Service College. Keller holds masters' degrees in Administration and Strategic Resources.

As the last speaker of the day, she addressed the crowd. "Commanding here offers a very special opportunity to team with some of America's best from varying venues in the military, industry, and community," she said. "I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and doing just that."

When asked by the media at the reception, which was held at the conclusion of the ceremony, if her gender made a difference in her assignment. She quickly responded "the Army has equipped me to do my job and we will continue to support the warfighters and other missions that come our way."