By Sgt. Ashley M. Outler, 28th Public Affairs DetachmentJuly 16, 2012
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. -- A colorful array of uniforms brightened the crowd who gathered to honor a beloved leader and to welcome a compatible successor on a sunny Washington day.
Yakima Training Center paused its typical training bustle to commemorate Lt. Col. Michael J. Daniels and Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph E. Santos as they passed their roles as command team of YTC to Lt. Col. Darrell O'steen, Jr. and Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher A. Raube in a ceremony, July 13, at YTC.
"Today is a bittersweet-day as we say goodbye to Lieutenant Colonel Daniels and his command team. He has made this a better place to train, work and live for all the military and civilians that call this place home," said Col. Thomas H. Brittain, garrison commander of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
During Daniels' 3-year tour in Yakima he led his work force of about 300 civilian and military employees who are responsible for over 3,000 acres of land, more than 25 training ranges and over 400 facilities packed into a small city that serves hundreds of trainees at any given time.
"He is a gifted leader and has built an incredible team here. He did that while he was touching hundreds of units rotating through this place for the last three years," said Brittain. "Everybody assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord or who has a home in the great northwest use this as their training jump-off point before they deploy overseas."
The hundreds of units passing through YTC encompass more than 50,000 service members of every branch of the military Brittain added. Despite the short staff and large demands, Daniels always found a way to say 'yes' to anything that would improve the quality and safety of YTC.
"We should all be proud of the work we've accomplished in keeping this facility operating on such a high level," said Daniels to his team with gratitude. "This group of employee's has continued 'improving our foxhole.' We've seen the refurbishment of much of the cantonment area infrastructure, development of new procedures that have reduced the risk of wild land fire and construction of new facilities and training ranges."
In spite of constantly maintaining training areas for such a large number of service members, Daniels did not take his eyes off of higher goals.
"He has reconfirmed and strengthened the relationships with surrounding communities and the leadership in government in this area," said Brittain. "He has done everything tremendously well and has met every challenge with balanced and seasoned leadership."
Daniels leaves YTC after being handpicked to work a the engineer branch of Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Ky. O'steen, who comes from Fort Benning, Ga., humbly prepares to start where Daniels left off.
"This ceremony is not about me, this ceremony is to honor the previous command team," said O'steen at the change of command ceremony. "They've spent endless efforts to make this a great place. Lieutenant Colonel Daniels has done a tremendous job, and I will continue with that vision."
The audience and ceremonial props provided representation of the efforts of Daniels and Santos and offered a glimpse of the responsibilities O'steen and Raube will assume control of.
"Another skilled command team is coming in. I know (O'steen and Raube) are the right leaders at the right time to take Yakima to the next level," said Brittain. "(O'steen) is also a proven leader and will continue to make Yakima Training Center better every day and keep it recognized as the premier training center."