FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Command Sgt. Maj. Albert H. Harris relinquished Weed Army Community Hospital’s colors to incoming Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Santiago in a ceremony on the patio of Oasis Café Feb. 15.
“[Fort Irwin] has been phenomenal. We would stay here much longer if we could, but the Army has its plans so we are moving on,” said Harris.
The exchange of the unit’s colors between the outgoing and incoming command sergeant major is a ceremony known as “Change of Responsibility.” The ceremony helps to reinforce the authority of the most senior non-commissioned officer, who serves as the senior enlisted advisor to the commander of the unit.
Weed Army Community Hospital’s commander, Col. Martin Doperak, expressed his gratitude for the support Harris has provided over the past two years, noting “what an honor it has been to lead with [Harris].” After speaking of fond times spent with Harris over the years, Doperak turned to Santiago to welcome him to WACH’s team.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Santiago, you will be a vital piece of the continuity of the command team,” said Doperak. “I look forward to working with you over the next several months as we continue to lead and support this incredible team of Soldiers and medical professionals in support of the NTC’s mission.”
Hospital staff, families, commanders, command sergeant majors and Brig. Gen. Jeff Broadwater, the commanding general of the National Training Center, attended the ceremony to show support for WACH. The hospital is one of NTC’s major subordinate commands and its primary focus is supporting the training mission.
Among the command sergeant majors attending the ceremony were the Regional Health Command-Central’s Command Sgt. Maj. Tabitha A. Gavia and Medical Command’s Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg, who were at Fort Irwin to conduct a walk-through of the hospital and to hold a town hall for the enlisted medical staff.
Santiago set two goals for his time as WACH command sergeant major. First, to continue to provide the best medical care to all Fort Irwin and NTC Soldiers and their families. Second, to continue to build a climate of trust and teamwork within WACH staff.
“My promise to you is that I will get to know each and every one of you,” Santiago told WACH Soldiers.
This summer, WACH will also welcome its next commander. Having the command sergeant major report ahead of the commander can be very helpful for providing continuity, Doperak said.
For more information about Weed Army Community Hospital visit http://www.irwin.amedd.army.mil/index.html.