FORT STEWEART, Ga. - Lt. Col. Matthew McCollum and Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Keown relinquished command of 4-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, to Lt. Col. Raymond Banks and Command Sgt. Maj. David Hopkins during a ceremony held on Cottrell Field, Fort Stewart, Ga. Feb. 7.
McCollum, who commanded the Sentinel Battalion for more than two years, will be retiring to South Carolina, and Keown will be retiring to North Carolina. These men served as the command team for the battalion’s most recent deployment to Logar and Wardak Provinces, Afghanistan, from March to November 2013.
During that time, they not only allocated groups of their diverse formation to support the Vanguard Brigade, but also served as the command team for Forward Operating Base Shank, the second largest FOB in Logar province, with more than eight thousand military and civilian personnel in their care on a daily basis. “That was no easy task, there is no manual for that,” said Col. Kimo Gallahue, a Frankfort, Ky., native, and the Vanguard Brigade commander, “Matt and his team handled it with the flexibility, professionalism, and aplomb that I’ve grown accustomed to.”
“Today is not just a change of command ceremony, in many ways, at least emotionally, it’s also a retirement ceremony,” said McCollum, a native of Columbia, S.C., as he addressed the formation for the last time. “To all the soldiers, non-commissioned officers, and officers of the Sentinel Battalion, thank you for all that you have done, for what you continue to do every day, and everything you will do in the future for our unit, our Army, and our nation. I am forever thankful for your service, and I am proud to have been one of you.”
As McCollum and Keown, a Dyer, Ind., native, pass the saber and colors, a new team takes charge. Hopkins, a Canton, Ill., native, has served as a combat engineer for more than 25 years, and has deployed five times in support of combat operations during his career. Banks enlisted in the Army in 1988, and later graduated from the U.S. Army’s Officer Candidates School in 1997. He has deployed in support of combat operations six times.
“What a great day it is to be a Dogface soldier,” said Banks, a Miami native, as he addressed the Sentinel Battalion for the first time as their commander. “Command sergeant major Hopkins and I are looking forward to your continued support and we are excited to join the team. To use the vernacular, ‘game on.’”