By Keith Houin, U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Public AffairsJuly 13, 2012
CHIEVRES, Belgium -- Col. Sergio Dickerson took the reins of U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Thursday on Chièvres Air Base amid nearly 500 guests, including U.S and international military partners, Ambassadors, local dignitaries and garrison employees.
Dickerson assumed command of the brigade-level U.S. NATO support installation from Col. Rick Tillotson, only one day after the three Benelux Garrisons merged to form one.
"In this first week of preparing to take command, it has become very evident to me that the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux, its people and its mission are very important to the success of IMCOM Europe," Dickerson said in his remarks after assuming command. "Every day we support and influence the mission of a wide variety of headquarters and agencies, national and international. They count on us and we deliver across a footprint of several nations and cultures."
Dickerson recognized the outgoing commander for his leadership and vision, and said he would "strive to let my actions speak to my commitment to continue the great work the garrison does every day."
The hour-long ceremony inside the community recreation center kicked off with the entrance of a combined U.S., Belgian and Dutch color guard, accented by music from the SHAPE International Band. U.S, Belgian and Dutch military formations were joined by a formation of civilian garrison employees to represent the unity of the U.S. forces and host nations. Outside local Belgian World War II re-enactors in authentic uniforms set-up a display of vintage vehicles and equipment to highlight the heritage of Chièvres Air Base during the World Wars.
After the colors had been passed between official parties signifying the changing of command, Installation Management Command - Europe Director Ms. Kathleen Y. Marin praised Tillotson's work as commander and emphasized his efforts to smoothly transition the Benelux garrisons at Chièvres, and Brussels, Belgium, and Schinnen, the Netherlands. "Rick has commanded at the gateway of the Atlantic bridge that joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United States together, she said. "He has mentored and guided two subordinate battalion level commands in providing a strong foundation on which NATO depends to sustain its important mission."
"While maintaining effectiveness and quality of life in a time of fiscal discipline and transition is a challenge few would openly embrace, Rick not only turned this challenge into an opportunity, but proved that transformation does not necessarily mean instability," she said. "Rick has forged strong bonds with local officials which have yielded more available and affordable housing, improved relations with host nation employees and most importantly, better force protection for our military communities."
"Rick and his team of dedicated employees and community partners have demonstrated to us all that the full potential of our garrisons is limited only by our imagination, Marin said.
"It is exciting to be able to serve in an overseas assignment, especially when you have the opportunity to command and to be able to get out and interact with host nation representatives," Tillotson said. "Every interaction I had with you was positive, whether it was in a social setting or at work."
"We in the United States Army Garrison Benelux are responsible for supporting personnel spread throughout Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Northern Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. We support a myriad of organizations including NATO Headquarters; the Tri-Missions in Brussels; SHAPE Headquarters; and Joint Forces Command Headquarters, Brunssum," he said. "We have a complex mission set, but the success we enjoyed is credited to the valued partnerships that exist within this unique community of professionals."
" We have formed partnerships with the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe's front office personnel; the SHAPE Headquarters Support Group; the Military Delegation to NATO; the Embassy staffs; Joint Forces Command, Brunssum; the United States Air Force; local community leaders and their emergency response forces; and a multitude of other organizations spread throughout the command's area of responsibility. To our valued partners -- Thank you for helping us create a home away from home for United States personnel serving here," Tillotson said.
As command of the garrison changed from colonel to colonel, so did the responsibility for the enlisted force. Command Sgt. Maj. Romeo Montez III took charge of the colors from Command Sgt. Maj. Allan Fairley.
Dickerson comes to the Benelux after an assignment as the U.S. Army Europe Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Officer. He was commissioned from The Citadel in 1998.
He has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from The Citadel and a Master of Arts in Management from Webster University.
In addition to the change of command ceremony a small retirement ceremony was held for Tillotson and Fairley. They ended a combined 60 years of service to the Army and the United States.