In a ceremony on the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Plaza on Tuesday, the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School commandant relinquished command of the school to his deputy and said “farewell” to the community.
Col. Phil Visser, 26th commandant of the USACBRN school, handed the Chemical Corps Regimental colors to Maj. Gen. Mark Yenter, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, who in turn passed them on to Col. Jeffrey Brodeur, USACBRN assistant commandant, during the symbolic ceremony.
Yenter, who presided over the change-of-command ceremony, told the assembled crowd that Visser would be missed, not only as the commandant, but also as a close friend and neighbor.
Yenter went on to praise Visser for his leadership of the school and told the assembled crowd that it was Visser’s vision and leadership that would mold the Chemical Regiment into meeting the future demands of the Army.
“Col. Visser, thank you for a job well done. You leave your regiment postured for the future and ready to win on the battlefield today,” Yenter said.
“The Chemical Corps Regiment is unique. It is unique because they are the science applied on the field for the Army. They are unique because they have representation in every battalion in the Army,” Yenter said.
Yenter explained how critical the Chemical Regiment is to the Army and how the regiment has to plan for the “unimaginable” event of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack. He further talked about how it’s often the CBRN specialist in the field that has to make the determination on what level of protection or need for decontamination from such an attack.
Under Visser’s commandancy, the Chemical Corps trained more than 16,000 professionals — from private to colonel — to support the Army in the field, Yenter said. In addition, Visser had oversight for the training of 13,000 transportation Soldiers.
Visser said the day was bittersweet as it was sad to leave home. He thanked his Family members for their unconditional love and support and went on to praise his wife for her commitment to supporting him on this, their 30th wedding anniversary.
“In finest traditions of the Army family, there is a moving truck being loaded at 2 Essayons,” Visser said.
Visser said Fort Leonard Wood is not only a great place to work, but a great place to live and that is because of the people who serve here. He added that it was the people here that made the corps successful.
“It’s easy to chalk up the number of wins we had here because of the caliber of the teammates we have here,” Visser said. “I cannot thank you enough.”
Prior to the ceremony on the MSCoE Plaza, Visser was awarded the Legion of Merit for his work as commandant and his wife, Sherri, was presented with the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal, by Yenter.
“We had never been to Fort Leonard Wood before, but this is truly a wonderful place to be. The last two years have been the best years we have ever spent in the Army,” Sherri Visser said.
Col. Visser said that saying “good-bye” is too permanent and when the Army was smaller in the old west, the adage was that most Soldiers would serve together again at another post and would farewell each other with that same prospect.
“I won’t say ‘good-bye,’ but rather “until our next posting,” Visser said.