FORT IRWIN, Calif.- As he took command of the Fort Irwin United States Army Garrison Col. Kurt Pinkerton paid tribute to the legacy left behind by outgoing Garrison commander Col. Jim Chevallier on Wednesday morning.

“During my transition I’ve been humbled by the efforts that have been made to make Fort Irwin a better and even stronger community and place to serve,” Pinkerton said. “I will continue to work so Fort Irwin is not only known as the world’s premiere training center , but to achieve that vision Col. Chevallier and Gen. Ferrell (Fort Irwin and National Training Center commanding general Brig. Gen. Terry Ferrell) frequently talk about: about being a ‘community of choice,’ where Soldiers across the country want and ask to come and serve.”

The strength of the Army is based upon the strength of its families and Pinkerton said he will work to continue strengthening families at Fort Irwin and the National Training Center as the Garrison commander.

In his remarks, Pinkerton paid tribute to his fire support officer Staff Sgt. James Webb, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2007, when Pinkerton was a battalion commander. Webb’s mother, Theresa Bullock, was in attendance at the ceremony.

“They are the true heroes. They are why I do what I do,” Pinkerton said. “They carry the biggest brunt of this war.”

In his last remarks, Chevallier also paid tribute to a fallen hero, former Fort Irwin media relations officer Etric Smith, who passed away on June 5, 2010. Smith’s widow, Leslie Smith, was in attendance at the ceremony.

“Etric was a veteran and a Department of the Army civilian from our Public Affairs Office, who routinely encouraged all of us to give our ‘best effort’ every day,” Chevallier said. “We approaching the one year anniversary of a man and day that many of us will not forget.”

As he reflected upon the goal to make Fort Irwin an “installation of choice,” Chevallier said it’s not the facilities that make an Army base an “installation of choice,” but rather the people.

“It has been my privilege over the last three years to serve alongside a number of people dedicated to that vision of Fort Irwin,” he said.

The majority of Fort Irwin civilian employees commute long distances to work in cubicles and they do it well, which is part of what makes them so amazing, he said.

“Fort Irwin and the National Training Center is a special place and often in a day-to-day rush we forget what we collectively accomplish here at the National Training Center and how vital it is to our Army and our nation,” he said. “Thank you allowing me to part of the team for the last three years. Support, defend and train the Force!”

Installation Management Command West director Randall Robinson offered praise for both Chevallier and Pinkerton during the ceremony.

“It’s indeed an honor to be with you as we salute an outstanding Garrison commander for a job well done and for the arrival of an exceedingly well-qualified man to assume leadership of Fort Irwin’s Garrison,” Robinson said.