By Patrick Buffett, Fort Lee Public Affairs
FORT LEE, Va. – Maj. Gen. Darrell K. Williams – a 32-year Quartermaster Corps officer with extensive experience in logistical support for deployed troops – assumed the title of commanding general for CASCOM and Fort Lee during a mid-morning ceremony Friday on Sgt. Seay Field outside of Mifflin Hall.
Williams replaced Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lyons who uncharacteristically held the command slot for just under a year. The early transition is the result of his selection for promotion to lieutenant general and a new assignment as the deputy commanding general for U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
Lt. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, deputy commanding general for Training and Doctrine Command, presided over the ceremony. During remarks following the passing of the command flag from Lyons to Williams, he congratulated both of the senior officers and their family members in attendance, and said Fort Lee continues to be the fortunate recipient of superior leadership teams.
“General Lyons put his mark on nearly every conceivable aspect of sustainment across our Army, whether it was rewriting doctrine, retooling education for our Soldiers and civilian cohorts, or working on our command systems to ensure service leaders can make decisions at the right time with the right information,” Mangum said. “He has done a magnificent job with (his wife) Maureen by his side, always with a smile, doing more than her fair share across the community, making every part of it better than the way she found it.
“I can tell you with all honesty, Steve and Maureen, the Scott Air Force Base and TRANSCOM communities are very fortunate and blessed indeed to have you coming onto their team.”
Welcoming the Williams family, Mangum said their reputation for superior leadership and family support makes them ideal candidates for the top command job at CASCOM.
“Darrell has been here before as a student and an instructor,” he noted. “He has been training his whole life for this assignment as a war-fighter sustainer. He brings experience and expertise, coming to Fort Lee out of a theater support command where all of his focus and most of his time was centered on the Central Command area of responsibility. He’s just the right guy to step in and take over the leadership role here at CASCOM and Fort Lee, and take the sustainment war-fighting function and this command to the next level.”
Lyons also acknowledged the “proven leadership competence” of Williams and the “steadfast Army Family support” of his wife Myra during remarks at the event.
“I couldn’t be happier for the CASCOM team to have (this couple) at the helm, providing leadership for this great organization,” Lyons said. “I’ve known (Maj. Gen.) Williams for a long time and his exceptional leadership and passion for our profession makes this transition very, very easy. I assure everyone in this command, I am leaving you in capable hands.”
After citing the names of numerous key leaders on post – school commandants, the deputy commanding generals of the National Guard and Army Reserve, and others – Lyons said he considers himself “extremely lucky” to have had the opportunity to stand in their ranks.
“It is clear to me that the exceptional leadership we find here at CASCOM is our competitive advantage as trainers of Soldiers and defenders of freedom,” he continued. “We also are fortunate to have the support of the American public, which holds our Army in such high esteem as one of the most respected professions in America. Our local communities – the Tri-Cities and surrounding counties – represent a magnificent example of patriotism and support. It is an honor to publicly thank them here today.”
Directly addressing the Soldiers in formation at the event, Lyons said they represent the very best this nation has to offer.
“I am always so impressed by your professionalism. Through your service, you demonstrate the responsibility that comes with privilege. You honor those who came before us, and daily you demonstrate an incredible strength of character, competence and commitment to freedom,” he observed. “These troops understand what it means to give more than they take and to be part of something bigger than themselves. They truly understand the value of our lives has less to do with the longevity of years, but the willingness to make a positive difference in our world. They look great today, and I am so proud to be in their formation.
“Command is a distinct privilege at any level,” Lyons concluded, “but I have to say it has been an incredibly distinct honor to serve with the Soldiers and civilians of the Combined Arms Support Command. True professionals. … I came here with a healthy respect for the incredible contributions of the CASCOM team to our Army. I leave with an even greater and more profound respect for what this organization represents to our nation.
“We will absolutely treasure our time here with this great team and remain grateful for even this short time we served together. Each of you holds a special place in our hearts.”
“It really feels good to be home again,” said Williams as he opened his remarks. He attended the officer basic course here in 1983 and returned in 1989 for the officer advanced course. He also served as an instructor for the Combined Logistics Officer Advanced Course earlier in his career.
“So, the opportunity to return to where it all began and assist in shaping the next generation of sustainment warriors and professionals as a commander of a place and a mission that laid the foundation of my career is indeed an honor.
“This occasion is all the more special,” Williams continued, “because I’m changing command with a friend and a trusted professional with whom I served during battalion command at Fort Stewart, Ga., and brigade command during the surge in Iraq. I don’t know of anyone who is more deserving of being promoted to the rank of lieutenant general than Steve Lyons.”
In a moment of levity, Williams told John Hall his new civilian deputy, “It will be your job to keep me out of trouble these first few months, and I just have to say … good luck.”
To the leadership teams in attendance at the ceremony, Williams had this to say about the reputation they continue to maintain. “My last assignment as the commander of 1st Theater Sustainment presented me with a birds-eye view of the quality of sustainment warriors you are delivering to the field. Commanders and senior leaders, I have to tell you that you are getting extremely high marks for the job you do. For that, I say thank you.”
Concluding his remarks, Williams said there is one final reason he feels a special connection to Fort Lee.
“According to elders in our family, my grandfather Samuel Stevens was drafted into the Army during World War II along with his only son Willie Stevens,” Williams noted. “It wasn’t until they were both somehow co-located here at Camp Lee that someone finally made the connection and discharged Grandpa Stephens. So, during my time here I will certainly research the facts behind this story. Nonetheless, it’s certainly an honor to have this opportunity to serve as commander of a base where it is very likely my grandfather and uncle were stationed. It gives me additional motivation