After brief remarks from his superiors, Robert L. Edmonson II stood on stage alone Friday at Fort Gordon’s Alexander Hall, looking down at his wife, his children and more than 500 soldiers.
The Army colonel had served as a senior military adviser in the Department of the Interior and advised the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but this moment marked the height of his military career. He was taking command of the 35th Signal Brigade, the largest tactical satellite network in the world.
“I am humbled to lead this formation to the utmost of my ability,” Edmonson said.
“All the way, Signal Corps!” he shouted, with scores of soldiers echoing the battle cry.
The New Jersey native began his Army career in 1991 as an infantry officer. He holds a master’s degree in information resource management and national security strategy and has earned more than 20 badges, ribbons and medals, including the Bronze Star.
The change of command was represented by an exchange of the Signal Corps flag between Edmonson and his predecessor, Col. Thomas Pugh.
The senior enlisted member of the brigade’s executive staff, Command Sgt. Maj. Perry D. Summerville, said Edmonson brings an abundance of experience and that there is no doubt he will excel in motivating the squadron.
Known as the Lion Brigade, the 35th is made up of four battalions, one company and about 2,500 troops. The unit has deployed at least 10 times and served in support of at least 10 U.S. Army operations since its designation in 1967 at Fort Bragg.
Its destinations have included Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq, and its 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion is currently deployed in the Mideast. At each post, the group managed message switchboards, engineered reliable computer infrastructure systems and provided troops with video-conferencing capabilities.
In relinquishing his command, Pugh remembered those veterans who went before him, saying “we do not stand in their shadows,” but instead, “we march in step with our heroes.”