Capt. Timothy Brooke
FORT PICKETT, Va., - A bittersweet day in the life of a Virginia Army National Guard battalion commander began with the words, “Today I feel like the luckiest man on earth.”
With those words, Lt. Col. Timothy L. Mantz of Fredericksburg, Va., began his farewell to the 429th Brigade Support Battalion as his unit stood proudly on a parade field at Fort Pickett for the time-honored tradition of the change of command.
Mantz commanded the unit from 2002 to 2006 and passed the mantle of command to Lt. Col. Eugene “Guy” Gormley on Oct. 15.
During the past four years, Mantz has trained Soldiers and grown leaders. He has led the battalion through some of the most demanding times in the Virginia Army National Guard since World War II.
“9/11 remains a defining moment for us and for our Nation,” said Mantz. “Over the past four years, these Soldiers made a heroic mark in Virginia, and the world at large. It is impossible to overstate how much they have done to make this nation safer, and to bring freedom, stability and peace to a troubled world.”
Among the numerous achievements of the battalion, Mantz cited “… his battalion has nearly 50 Soldiers in Iraq, more than 60 Soldiers deploying to Kosovo for peace-enforcement operations, and 60 soldiers that recently returned from Operation Jump Start providing border security in Arizona along the U.S. - Mexico Border.”
In addition to the challenges of deployments, Mantz led the battalion through the transformation process that affected nearly every unit in the Virginia Army National Guard.
In the fall of 2006, the 1st Battalion, 246th Field Artillery and the 429th Forward Support Battalion merged and completed one of the largest transformation efforts the United States Army and the Virginia Army National Guard have ever seen. The new battalion, renamed the 429th Brigade Support Battalion, transformed from the smallest of the four battalions in the brigade to the largest of six battalions in the brigade and the Virginia Army National Guard.
The new Support Battalion, nicknamed “Stonewall Support,” grew from three to eight companies that include nearly 900 male and female Soldiers located in 12 armories that virtually touch every part of the Commonwealth .
The efforts of the battalion have not gone without notice. The support battalion experienced a tremendously successful training year. In addition to deployments and transformation, the Headquarters and Headquarters Company was the Connelly Competition Winner for the best field food service operations in the Virginia Army National Guard and B Company was the national runner-up for the Army Award for Maintenance Excellence (AAME).
Additionally, three companies earned the prestigious Virginia Army National Guard Excellence in Training Award.
For Mantz’s outstanding achievements as a battalion commander, Brig. Gen. Frank Batts, commander of the Joint Force Headquarters at Fort Pickett, presented him with the Army’s Meritorious Service Medal on behalf of the Adjutant General of Virginia, Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr.
Mantz’s next assignment is with the 329th Area Support Group (ASG) in Virginia Beach, where he will serve as the executive officer. The ASG is a brigade-size headquarters which transformed from the 54th Field Artillery Brigade. The ASG has command and control over a transportation battalion, three separate transportation companies, a personnel services detachment, chemical company and maintenance company.
The incoming commander the 429th Brigade Support Battalion, Lt. Col. Eugene “Guy” Gormley, is no stranger to “Stonewall Support.” Among his previous assignments, he served as a staff officer and commander of B Co., 429 th Support Battalion.
“It is good to be back,” said Gormley. He noted that the size of the battalion had almost tripled its size recently. His immediate plans for the battalion include continuing preparation for answering the call for contingency operations.
Gormley graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1988 and received his Masters of Science from George Washington University in 2000. He is a graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College and the Defense Acquisition University.
Gormley recently completed a tour at the Army National Guard Headquarters in Arlington. His duties while assigned there included positions as Information Support Requirements Officer, Information Management Officer, and Plans and Policy Branch Chief.
Changes of command are indeed bittersweet, because one individual must say farewell to friends and comrades as they move on to other positions. The new commander experiences the excitement of a new endeavor with plans and ideas as he embarks upon his new journey.
In either case, friendships are forged and nurtured over time and tradition and the Virginia Army National Guard marches on.