Col. Kip Korth and Command Sgt. Maj. Bill Ferguson bid farewell to the 1st Engineer Brigade, who welcomed their new commander, Col. Gary Law, during a joint change of command and relinquishment of responsibility ceremony June 24 at Nutter Field House.
The event was held with social-distancing protocols, and as such, battalion command teams attended on behalf of their Soldiers.
Brig. Gen. Mark Quander, U.S. Army Engineer School commandant, was the reviewing officer for the ceremony.
“Today, we’re going to say goodbye to an incredible brigade command team,” Quander said. “For the past 24 months, Col. Kip Korth and (Command) Sgt. Maj. Bill Ferguson have superbly led this brigade. The diversity and the complexity of the missions that the 1st Engr. Bde. Soldiers and civilians on this installation execute on a daily basis, both here at Fort Leonard Wood and at the offsite locations, are immense – and it takes the right kind of dynamic and flexible leader to accomplish our mission to the highest of standards.”
Korth is next deploying to Afghanistan and Ferguson will serve as the command sergeant major of the Mission Command Center of Excellence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Law comes to the 1st Engr. Bde. from having most recently served at the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Directorate of Training and Doctrine. Ferguson will be temporarily succeeded by Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond Ramirez, 554th Engineer Battalion, who will act as interim brigade command sergeant major.
Korth reflected on his time at the brigade and said their drive to complete the mission never stopped.
“Just shy of two years ago, we had a little ceremony and it took up all of Gammon Field,” he said. “We talked about this brigade providing a solid foundation for the Engineer Regiment, the U.S. Army and our nation – a foundation built on mastery of the basics, values, character and, of course, advanced technical and tactical skills training.”
He related the same mindset to the brigade’s historical successes.
“Our mission to transform individuals through training and development into combat-ready engineer and ordnance warriors and leaders for the operating force would continue on with the same desire for excellence and no fear of challenges,” Korth said. “That desire for excellence … captures the essence of what the 1st Engineer Brigade brought to the beaches of North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Normandy, France and Okinawa. Sappers went first in order to put them across, and that mentality is what makes this brigade special.”
The outgoing commander dedicated much of his speech to thanking distinguished guests, battalion teams and installation leadership. He commended the entire brigade and said Ferguson kept the unit well-grounded.
“I’ve never been so proud to be affiliated with a professional group of people,” he said. “Command Sgt. Maj. Ferguson is the cement that kept our foundation strong. You’ve impressed me from the first email … and you’ve done nothing but continue to impress me over the last two years.”
Ferguson reflected on how much his time at Fort Leonard Wood has meant to him.
“Wow, how do you say farewell to this family?” he asked rhetorically.
He thanked the MSCoE and Engineer School leadership and expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to serve alongside the other branches of service.
“Who really knew that this was a joint assignment?” he said. “The Marines, Navy and Air Force – thank you for supporting your Army … so great to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you as we accomplish our joint mission together, training America’s sons and daughters.”
He offered credit to drill sergeants and instructors in the brigade.
“Like every organization on the installation, these folks are the lifeblood, and none of us would have a job if it wasn’t for them – Fort Leonard Wood wouldn’t exist,” he said. “The Army is a people business, and I can tell you we have the best people.”
Law thanked all in attendance for their support and offered words of encouragement as he looks forward to commanding the 1st Engr. Bde.
“Col. Korth and (Command) Sgt. Maj. Ferguson, your leadership has brought this brigade to a whole new level,” he said. “To the 1st Engr. Bde., your professionalism is remarkable. I will give it my all. Yes, it’s a time of change and uncertainty, but I know we’ll get (the mission) done, because we’ll do it together – we’ll do it across the Engineer Regiment, we’ll do it across Fort Leonard Wood and we’ll do it across the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence.”