JOLON — In a traditional Change of Command Ceremony, Col. Charles Bell passed on command of the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hunter Liggett to Col. Lisa Lamb last month.
Bell, who held the post since June 2019, now faces his next assignment as chief of staff for the 76th Operational Response Command in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Lamb hails from Pittsburgh, Pa., and was previously stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, where she was director and secretary of the joint staff at U.S. Africa Command.
Prior to the June 30 ceremony, which was held in the lower field of the historic Hacienda, Bell received the Legion of Merit Award and two challenge coins from Brenda Lee McCullough, Installation Management Command-Readiness director, who was also host of the event.
McCullough also presented the commander’s wife Carly Bell with a certificate of appreciation, and during the ceremony, she also received the traditional bouquet of red roses as a farewell.
Lamb’s husband, Col. (Ret.) Patrick Lamb, received a medallion.
The formal passing of the garrison colors symbolizes the passing of the mantle of leadership and the loyalty of the soldiers and Army civilians to their new commander.
Bell received the garrison flag from FHL Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Fluckiger, and then passed it to McCullough, signifying a successful completion of command. McCullough then passed the colors to Lamb, charging her with responsibility for the unit as its new garrison commander. Lamb returned the colors to Fluckiger, symbolizing her first official act and her trust in the unit’s noncommissioned officer corps.
Maj. Gen. Alberto Rosende, 63rd Readiness Division commanding general and FHL’s senior commander, praised Bell as one who “faced every challenge of command as opportunities to lead and improve every aspect of the installation.”
Rosende cited the Covid-19 pandemic and the Dolan Fire as two of the biggest challenges Bell had to work with.
“He was the ever-optimist in assuring everyone involved that achieving success was not only possible, but the only acceptable outcome,” Rosende said. “At the end of the day, he demonstrates a clear understanding of the importance of providing world-class training opportunities and the key role that Fort Hunter Liggett plays in insuring we have a capable and ready force.”
Rosende said of Lamb, “Your stellar achievements precede your arrival, and we look forward to your continued success here. I know you are the right leader at the right time to take the reins and continue the success of Fort Hunter Liggett into the future.”
McCullough said, “Commanding a garrison today is a challenging business, and it requires strong, resourceful and inspiring leadership. Chuck’s leadership and vision were the driving force for much of the garrison’s success. Both challenges and innovation mark his two-year command. He provided unprecedented guidance during the Covid-19 pandemic environment, allowing maximum telework, and flexible work schedules for employees.”
She said FHL was “one of the first garrisons to re-institute training in a safe environment and led the way on how it should be done during a pandemic.” Bell implemented Covid-19 risk mitigation guidelines and screenings to allow individual and collective training.
“Other training installations adopted these types of mitigating procedures in order to continue to train and meet the Army’s mission,” McCullough added.
During the Dolan Fire, Bell activated the installation’s Emergency Operations Center and directed a “proactive offensive use of controlled burns that allowed the Directorate of Emergency Services to fight the fire on favorable terrain. As a result, no garrison response personnel sustained injuries during the Dolan Fire.”
Bell praised the soldiers and employees who insured FHL “is and remains the pinnacle place to live, work and train.” He also thanked the FHL community for “making this the absolutely best assignment ever.”
“I have no doubt the FHL community will embrace you,” Bell told Lamb.
When Lamb spoke, she said Bell “left tremendous shoes to fill,” and the FHL community’s desire “for excellence and resilience is completely contagious. I am committed to your success.” She ended with the commander’s call sign “Coyote Six, signing on.”
Lamb greeted guests at the reception afterward, where Hacienda staff prepared a buffet luncheon.
Fort Hunter Liggett Public Affairs contributed to this article.