ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - Maj. Gen. Patricia E. McQuistion became commanding general of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command during an Oct. 28 change of command ceremony on Memorial Field.

McQuistion took command of ASC from Maj. Gen. Yves J. Fontaine, who had served as commanding general since Sept. 2009. In a retirement ceremony following the handover, Fontaine was honored for more than three decades of service.

Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, presided over both ceremonies.

Marking the change of command in time-honored fashion, Dunwoody received the ASC colors from Fontaine, then passed them to McQuistion. With her position as commanding general established, McQuistion then passed the flag to ASC's top enlisted Soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen D. Blake, for safekeeping.

"Today's ceremony is a little different than the traditional passing of the colors," said Dunwoody, "because we are also retiring a great American, a great patriot and a great Army Soldier."

Dunwoody remarked that Fontaine had accomplished much in his brief two years in command. "I know I can't capture all of Major General Fontaine's achievements of his distinguished career today, but I want to say right up front that he is one of those impact players you want on your team."

In his farewell remarks, Fontaine spoke for his entire family. "Kathy, the girls [Laura, Sara, Michelle, and Genevieve] and I want to start by publicly thanking our families and friends who have been by our side throughout our 36-year career and provided continuous encouragement and support to our family as we served our nation," he said.

Fontaine, a native of Belgium, became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1971 and commissioned as an Army officer in 1976.

"Only in this great nation can a Belgian immigrant serve successfully in uniform," he said with a trace of an accent. "So, I owe this nation a huge debt of gratitude. It gave me the opportunity to succeed by accepting me as one of its own -- treating me with respect and dignity -- even if I spoke funny."

Moving the spotlight from Fontaine to McQuistion, Dunwoody said, "Losing a great commander during demanding times is usually very challenging, but I've known Pat McQuistion for many years and I've served with her many times - and I can tell you, once again our Army has chosen wisely."

Dunwoody then introduced McQuistion by saying, "What you really need to know about Pat, you can't read in her bio. She is a gifted leader, a strategic thinker and she knows how to take care of Army Soldiers, civilians and their Families."

McQuistion began her remarks by thanking those who have helped and encouraged her own career.

"There is no way to thank General Dunwoody enough for her support and for her giving us this opportunity, but I'll say it anyway. 'Thank you ma'am,'" she said. "I know that she doesn't want thanks. She and the other coaches and mentors in the audience … only expect us to do as they have done: Pay it forward to those who follow - to make our team members successful in their missions, with their families and in their lives."

McQuistion comes to ASC from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she served as commanding general of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army-Europe and Seventh Army. Her assignment as commanding general of ASC is the latest step in a career that began in 1980, when she graduated from the University of Akron in Ohio and earned her commission as a second lieutenant through the ROTC program.

Her leadership assignments include serving as commander of Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania and commander of Defense Supply Center -- Columbus in Ohio.

Among her experiences is a stint as a speechwriter for the U.S. Army Chief of Staff at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Later assignments took her to Fort Riley, Kan., where she served as chief of the Division Materiel Management Center and as assistant chief of staff (G-4) for the 1st Infantry Division; to Fort Hood, Texas, where she commanded the Special Troops Battalion in the 13th Corps Support Command; she returned to the Pentagon as a special assistant for personnel and logistics to the U.S. Army Chief of Staff.

Taking command of ASC is a homecoming of sorts for McQuistion, who served from Sept. 2006 to Sept. 2007 as deputy commanding general, United States Army Field Support Command - which became Army Sustainment Command - with duty as commanding general, Army Materiel Command Forward-Southwest Asia/C-4, Coalition Forces Land Component Command, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait

McQuistion's awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters; the Bronze Star; the Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters; the Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster; the Air Force Commendation Medal; the Army Achievement Medal; and the Army Staff Identification Badge; and the Ehrenkreuz der Bundeswehr in Gold.

McQuistion is married to retired Col. Leif Johnson. They have three children: Leif, Nick, and Laura.