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    Iron Division conducts change of command ceremony

    Iron Division conducts change of command ceremony

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Roles | Maj. Gen. Andrew Schafer (right), outgoing commander of the 28th Infantry Division;...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Doug Roles 

    28th Infantry Division

    Soldiers and friends of the 28th Infantry Division, Pa. Army National Guard, welcomed a new commanding general and bid a fond farewell to the retiring commander during a change of command ceremony at Fort Indiantown Gap on Sept. 18, 2020.
    Brig. Gen. Mark McCormack took over as the division’s 39th commander, succeeding Maj. Gen. Andrew Schafer. The ceremony was held in front of a formation of the unit’s four subordinate brigades with soldiers, retired 28 ID leaders and guests observing the traditional passing of the colors.
    “I am absolutely honored to be granted the privilege to lead the iron men and women of the 28th Infantry Division,” McCormack said. “As you all know, the 28th Infantry Division holds an unparalleled place in American history, and I am truly humbled and proud to be entrusted with the responsibility to lead this great organization into the future at a very critical time for the United States Army.”
    The division is the largest element of the Pa. Army National Guard and is comprised of more than 14,000 soldiers across four major subordinate commands: the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team; 55th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade; 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team; and 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade.
    The 28 ID is America’s oldest continuously-serving division. Elements of the division trace their lineage to 1747, when Ben Franklin organized his battalion of “Associators” in Philadelphia.
    McCormack said that in order to improve and advance the unit, he will focus on three critical areas of leadership: people, performance and professionalism. He said if unit leaders continue to provide support to their people, if soldiers continue to train and excel in performance, and if “we can remain professional in all our duties and actions, there is no doubt that the 28th Infantry Division will continue to be one of the best organizations in the United States army.”
    Schafer thanked the 28 ID’s soldiers for their hard work and dedication during his time as commander. He welcomed McCormack, and his family, to a new and challenging assignment.
    “I have full faith and confidence in you, and the soldiers and officers of the 28ID, that you will support both our federal and state mission, proudly represent the U.S. Army, work with our local government partners and continue the great history of the Pa. Army National Guard,” Schafer said.
    Schafer spoke about the importance of supporting the effort of the Pa. Guard’s recruiting and retention battalion. He said the Pa. Guard needs to look for new ways to inform residents about opportunities in the Guard and suggested working with local governments and businesses to spread the message. Schafer noted that the Guard is a multi-million dollar asset for the commonwealth and provides full and part-time jobs and health benefits. He pointed out that each soldier providing one lead per year to a recruiter would have great impact on unit strength.
    “Over the years, I have provided numerous leads to the R&R battalion just from talking to young people and sharing the opportunities we have,” Schafer said. “We all need to continue talking to young people about the unique training and benefits we offer in the Pa. Army National Guard.”
    Schafer also reminded the audience of the importance of the support of families and employers. He said units need to consider employers when making training schedules and reminded soldiers to provide adequate notice of upcoming military training.
    Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pa. Deputy Adjutant General – Army, received the division flag from the outgoing commander and passed it to the incoming commander. He termed the change of command ceremony an important day in the illustrious history of the division considering the challenges unit leaders have faced over the last two decades.
    Schindler said the Global War on Terror has been an extraordinary time for the Pa. Guard as nearly 25,000 troops have deployed in combat, counter-insurgency and security missions as the Guard continued to meet state duty obligations, most notably in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    “The 28th has emerged from a strategic reserve to a fully operational force,” Schindler said. “The division’s storied history remains intact with a great new chapter added.”
    Schafer took command of the division April 15, 2016. During the division headquarters and headquarters battalion’s deployment to Kuwait, in 2018, he served as commander of Task Force Spartan, a unique, multi-component organization made up of active Army and reserve component units which conduct training exercises and key leader engagements to strengthen defense relationships and build partner capacity in the greater Levant region. During the ceremony, Schafer and the division’s former command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) John Jones, affixed a Southwest Asia 2018 meritorious unit citation streamer to the division colors. The citation was awarded for exceptionally meritorious service in support of Operation Spartan Shield/Task Force Spartan.
    Schafer was commissioned in 1983 through the Reserve Officers Training Corps program at the first Reserve Officers Training Corps Advance Camp at Fort Bragg, N.C. He commanded the 3rd Battalion, 103rd Armor and served as the division’s logistics officer. Additionally, he served as deputy commander for the 55th and 56th brigades before taking command of the 56th.
    Following the change of command ceremony, a reception was held for Schafer and his retirement order was read in the presence of the division’s senior leaders and retired leaders. His name will appear on the Pa. National Guard retirement rolls with the rank of lieutenant general. State Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Anthony Carrelli presented Schafer with the Pennsylvania Distinquished Service Medal.
    McCormack previously was assigned as the division’s deputy commanding general – support. He received his commission in the United States Army on May 15, 1988 from the Army ROTC program at Mansfield University. His previous assignments include land component commander and J1 (manpower and personnel officer) at Pa. Joint Force Headquarters, Fort Indiantown Gap. He has also served as commander of the 213th Regional Support Group and the 28th Personnel Services Battalion.



    Date Taken: 09.18.2020
    Date Posted: 09.22.2020 19:11
    Story ID: 378426
    Location: HARRISBURG, PA, US 

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