News: Abingdon, Md., resident assumes command of Army Reserve Company
Story by Capt. Michelle Lunato
FORT A.P. HILL, Va. — Army Reserve Capt. Marco Brown relinquished command of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 392nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion to Capt. Yahaira Pridgen during a change of command ceremony here, Feb. 9.
Brown, who had been in command of the Baltimore company since July 2011, said leaving his soldiers was bittersweet.
“Command is a rewarding but humbling experience.” When Brown took over HHC, it had recently returned from a deployment where the soldiers were scattered throughout Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. I spent a lot of time rebuilding the company’s morale and unity since they were not all together on the deployment, said Brown. “It was important to put that faith back into the soldiers.”
Rebuilding a redeployed company into a cohesive unit is not an easy task for any new commander, but it was even more challenging for Brown since he lived in Midland, Ga. “Command itself is not bad, but commanding from 800 miles away was challenging.”
As a Reservist, commanding soldiers was not Brown’s only responsibility. When he was not boarding a plane to lead soldiers in Baltimore, he was serving as a communications specialist for Kia Motors Maintenance of Georgia and being a busy father to a 2-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl. The juggling act was definitely complex at times, but Brown said it was worth it in the end.
“Command pushes you to the limits. You learn a lot about yourself and your soldiers.”
During his 19 months in command, Brown said he saw himself and his soldiers develop personally and as a team. “I felt like I helped instill confidence in them. I am extremely proud of them, and hope at the end of the day, they can say the same about me.”
Working with these soldiers was on honor, said Brown. “It is hard saying goodbye, but there comes a time when it is time to move on. Capt. Pridgen is coming in at the right time to take the unit where I couldn’t.”
Now that the monthly flights to Maryland are no longer a requirement, there will be more time for my kids and my wife who has been so supportive, said Brown. “It’s like time has been given back to them.”
As the new HHC commander, Pridgen said she is thankful for the loving family that stands behind her. “I have their support. They are really excited for me to take this position.”
Pridgen’s husband, Walter, knows exactly what a Reserve command position entails since he is also a captain in the Army Reserves. Walter serves at the Communications-Electronics Command in Aberdeen, Md., which is where Pridgen herself last served. Pridgen, who originally hails from New York, currently resides in Abingdon, Md. with her husband. This logistical fact alone will make Pridgen’s commute to the Baltimore-stationed HHC less complicated than it was for Brown.
This does not mean it will be easy for Pridgen as she still has to navigate the rigors of balancing a civilian job and family life, all while increasing her responsibilities to the Army Reserve.
Pridgen’s demanding job as an adjudicator for the Department of Defense’s Central Clearance Facility is intense enough, but the new commander is also a mother of two girls: a 4-month-old and 13-year-old.
Pridgen says she and her family are ready for this next phase of her career. “I know they are proud of me — they got my back."
According to Pridgen, this immeasurable support will allow her to be focused on her new position and the soldiers who she sees "so much potential" in.
To harness this potential, Pridgen plans on making training a priority. That means getting the soldiers into schools and ensuring their time at battle assemblies is not only productive and educational, but also enjoyable, said Pridgen. “I want the soldiers to know that I am a dedicated, soldier-focused leader who wants to make training fun.”
Pridgen says that her main route of accomplishing that goal has to be through her noncommissioned officers. “My main focus will be giving time back to the NCOs. I want my NCOs to be the back bone of the Army and do what they do best — take care of soldiers — and let me lead the company.”