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Stilwell Battalion bids farewell to one leader and welcomes another

By Story by Staff Sgt. Sinthia Rosario | 16th Sustainment Brigade | Feb. 26, 2019

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany —

The 39th Transportation Battalion (Movement Control) or Stilwell Battalion, 16th Sustainment Brigade, honored their outgoing Battalion Commander Lt. Col. William R. Kost and welcomed the incoming Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Brandon H. Ungetheim, during a Change of Command ceremony at the Armstrong Club, Feb. 26.

A Change of Command ceremony denotes a key leadership transition, which is symbolized by the Passing of the Colors. The tradition is marked by the Battalion’s Command Sgt. Michael D. Russell, passing the unit colors to Kost, who then passed it, relinquishing his command, to the 16th Sustainment Brigade Commander Col. Michelle K. Donahue. Donahue then passed the colors to Ungetheim, which symbolizes that the accountability, authority and command of the battalion has been entrusted to him.

After the completion of the Passing of Colors, Donahue, the ceremony reviewing officer, addressed the guest and the Soldiers in formation. She spoke about Kost’s service as battalion commander.

“Bill, you have done an amazing job leading this formation,” said Donahue. “I stand here impressed by the success that your formation has had over the last two years. Not a day or week went by that [Command Sgt. Maj. Frank R. Graham, Jr., senior enlisted advisor of the 16th Sust, Bde.] and I weren’t amazed with your team’s operational reach across Europe and your grasp of distributed mission command.”

The Soldiers and civilians assigned to the unit processed more than 35,000 movement requests, 4,300 diplomatic clearances and 49,000 customs clearance actions. They also transported more than 300,000 tons of equipment and managed the movement of more than 80,000 military and commercial assets at air, sea and rail nodes in support of movements in the Theater Sustainment Base.

Donahue also spoke about operations and missions the unit participated in, their accomplishments and their unwavering commitment.

“Again and again, your Soldiers have remained committed to the mission and have delivered unprecedented results,” Donahue said. “I know their success, in part is due to your guiding hand, to the development of your junior leaders, to the love you have for these Soldiers and their families and to your drive to excel.”

She added that she understood that they have asked a lot from the Stilwell Soldiers and their families, but his team always met the challenge.

Donahue’s final words to Kost, “Bill this is the end of an era and we are sad to see you go, but I know you’ll agree that we’ve placed the command in the hands of another extraordinary leader, Lt. Col. Brandon Ungetheim.”

Kost addressed the Stilwell’s Battalion with pride, one final time.

“Command Sgt. Maj. Russell, the Stilwell Soldiers of the 39th look terrific as always.” “These are only a small representation of the staff and our eight units, as a number are currently on mission supporting movements across Europe. And what a great setting for this ceremony. Job well done, as always.”

He also addressed the crowd of leaders, Soldiers, partners, civilians and families who attended the ceremony. He recognized key personnel in the crowd and thanked them for all the support given to him during his two years as battalion commander.

As his time as battalion commander came to an end, Kost spoke a few parting words to Ungetheim and his family.

“I appreciate the time that we’ve spent over the past couple of months getting to know each other. This year will be fast and furious. It’s a complex mission set, but you’re definitely up for the challenge.”

He added, that Ungetheim inherited a trained, ready, adaptive and forward thinking team of motivated Soldiers, professional civilians and supportive families.

“They’ll give you their best effort and will keep personnel and equipment moving to/through and out of Europe,” Kost said. “Best of luck as you take the Stilwell battalion towards even greater heights.”