Maj. Gen. LaWarren Patterson officially became the 36th chief of the Signal Corps on Wednesday morning after a ceremony rich in history and symbolism.
Patterson told hundreds of soldiers assembled across Fort Gordon’s Barton Field that he was looking forward to the work “we are about to provide our nation and our Army.”
“We will continue the development and refinement of our Army,” said Patterson, who relinquished command Tuesday of Fort Gordon’s 7th Signal Command.
The ceremony was also a farewell to Maj. Gen. Alan R. Lynn, who will assume command of U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., on Aug. 9. In bidding goodbye to a fraction of the more than 20,000 civilians and service members on the post, Lynn said he could not be prouder of their service.
“You are developing the next greatest generation,” said Lynn, who took command of Fort Gordon on July 21, 2010.
The change of command was represented by an exchange of the Signal Corps flag between Patterson and Lynn, with the assistance of the senior enlisted member of the Signal Corps’ command staff, Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Pflieger. It was the pinnacle of a ceremony with military traditions, some dating back centuries, including the review of troops and the use of semaphore flags to coordinate the movement of troops on the field.
Lt. Gen. David Perkins, the commander of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, emphasized in remarks the importance of the Signal Corps in the Army. Perkins said he was told early in his career that all the best strategies and tank formations were worthless if a commander couldn’t communicate with his troops.
“If you can’t talk … you’re camping out,” Perkins said.
Perkins said Patterson would really be assuming a dual command, as chief of the Signal Corps but also the commander of Fort Gordon. It will now be his task to ensure that soldiers are trained in the best and latest communications technology and that their families on post are safe.
“When we decide who will be head of Signal Corps, we don’t do it lightly,” Perkins said.