Three top Benning commanders to leave

benw@ledger-enquirer.comMay 2, 2013 

Over the next two months, Fort Benning will lose three of its top commanders at the Maneuver Center of Excellence, officials said Thursday.

They are Col. Jeffrey Fletcher, garrison commander on the post; Col. Johnnie L. Johnson, commander of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Kelley Hill; and Col. Timothy E. Lamb, commander of the Fort Benning Army Medical Department Activity and Martin Army Community Hospital.

Fletcher has been reassigned with a deployment to the Middle East. A 1984 graduate of Kendrick High School in Columbus, he became the first black garrison commander at the post when he arrived in June 2011. A change of command ceremony is scheduled for 8 a.m. June 14 on York Field across from McGinnis-Wickam Hall. Fletcher will turn over duties to the new garrison commander, Col. Michail S. Huerter, during the ceremony.

As garrison commander, Fletcher was responsible for the day-to-day operations, public works and family support programs for soldiers and families. He had a key role in the Base Realignment and Closure process that moved the U.S. Armor School from Fort Knox, Ky., and the Army's plan to acquire 82,800 acres of training land.

Last week, he led a Community Listening Session with senior Army leaders on possibly losing the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team as the force is reduced by 2020.

Johnson and about half of the "Sledgehammer Brigade" returned in March from a nine-month deployment to Kuwait. The brigade took part in training exercises and operations with Kuwaiti forces.

A change of command ceremony for Johnson will be held at 2 p.m. May 17 at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center.

With nearly three decades in the uniform, Lamb officially retires from the Army after Col. Scott B. Avery assumes duties of the medical department during a 9 a.m. July 12 ceremony on York Field. Lamb moved to Fort Benning in July 2011, more than two months after medical personnel broke ground on a new Martin Army Community Hospital off Bass Road.

At a cost of $363.7 million, the new 745,000-square-foot building will replace the 57-year-old hospital nearby when it opens in November 2014. The new structure is already more than halfway complete.

One of the highlights of Lamb's tenure at Fort Benning is joining post commander, Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster, to sign a covenant supporting all ill, injured and wounded soldiers at the Warrior Transition Battalion.

"We signed a covenant to commit ourselves," Lamb told a downtown Columbus crowd during a Veterans Day parade in November. "We also realize it's a partnership deeply engaged from the support from the community."

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