July 1, 2009

New commander takes over at 183rd RTI

By Capt. Matt Nowak
Virginia Army Guard Public Affairs

  183rd RTI change of command

Col. Walt Mercer (right) hands the colors of the 183rd Regional Training Institute to Brig. Gen. Stephen Huxtable (center), symbolizing the reliquinshment of his command with the 183rd RTI. Huxtable will then pass the colors on to the RTI's new commander Col. Marie Mahoney (left) to continue the "passing of the colors" tradition. The ceremony took place June 28 at Fort Pickett. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Lauren Martin, Joint Force Headquarters)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — The 183rd Regional Training Institute conducted a change of command ceremony June 28 at Fort Pickett.

The outgoing commander, Col. Walter Mercer, will become a resident student at the U.S. Army War College’s year-long program in Carlisle, Pa. Taking his place is Col. Marie Mahoney, who is leaving the her traditional Guardsman position as the director of fiscal operations to command the RTI.

Mercer, who resides in Hanover, said he was very proud to be commander and was sad to depart after only eight months in command.

Some accomplishments during his command include: providing command emphasis through the groundbreaking for the new RTI facility and meeting all mission requirements and Adjutant General taskings for the inauguration in January 2009.

“My time in this role has been too short and it is not easy to leave this unit and this team,” explained Mercer. “I have been humbled at this opportunity to command the RTI and this team of outstanding, motivated Soldiers. They are the best and most professional NCOs in Virginia, a superb staff and group of commanders.”

The reviewing officer and speaker for the event was Brig. Gen Stephen Huxtable, Assistant Adjutant General for the Army. Huxtable presented Mercer with Meritorious Service Medal for his leadership at the RTI.

“I know he will come back more prepared to take on any assignment that he might assume,” said Huxtable. “I know he will do an excellent job at War College and I will be looking forward to getting you back to take on your next assignment with additional knowledge and experience.”

Mahoney, who lives in Chesterfield, expects to maintain the current path of the RTI and build upon the work of her predecessor.

“This is an exciting opportunity for me,” Mahoney said. “I truly appreciate the confidence the Virginia National Guard leadership is showing in me by selecting me for this command.”

  183rd RTI change of command

Col. Walt Mercer, outgoing commander of the 183rd RTI, hands the unit colors to Brig. Gen. Stephen Huxtable, symbolizing the reliquinshment of his command with the 183rd Regional Training Institute. (Photo by Capt. Matt Nowak, Virginia Army Guard Public Affairs)

“Due to her strong leadership skills and ‘can-do’ attitude, she was selected to command the 183rd RTI,” Huxtable said. “She is the right person for the job and will bring a proven skill set with strong leadership skills.”

Both Mercer and Mahoney thanked their families for the support of their careers and as a sign of appreciation each spouse was presented a gift.

Included in the precise and well-rehearsed ceremony is the traditional passing of the regimental colors that represents the transfer of authority and responsibility from one commander to another. Command Sergeant Major Howard Halfacre, the RTI command sergeant major, started the chain by passing the colors to Mercer, who passed it to Huxtable and then on to Mahoney. He then returned it to Halfacre to complete the passing chain.

As a show of support, students, cadre and support personnel stood in a line formation across from the official party and visitors. A section from the 29th Infantry Division band performed the musical portion of the event.

The Regional Training Institute was established in 1957 to produce officers at the Officer Candidate School. Then in 1972 a Non-Commissioned Officer Academy was added to develop enlisted Soldiers into leaders.

In 2008, as a result of the Army School System transformation, the RTI reorganized into three battalions- infantry, transportation and a modular battalion. 

The modular battalion is comprised of a military police training company, Officer Candidate School, Warrant Officer Candidate School, and Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course.

In a surprising but brief presentation, Huxtable gave retiring Master Sgt. Joe McCoy a coin for his loyalty and dedication to the Virginia Army National Guard and his 37 years of service.

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