Staff Sgt. Brian Ragin
2nd Brigade Combat Team
Photo by Spc. Javon Johnson
Col. Terry S. Tillis, commander of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, receives the unit’s colors from Brig. Gen. Brett Sylvia, commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division Forward, during a change of command ceremony on Tower Barracks Parade Field, Grafenwöhr, Germany July 20. Due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions, Brig. Gen. Brett Sylvia was the presiding officer of the ceremony in the absence of Maj. Gen. Tony Aguto, commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division.
Spartans bid farewell to O’Neal, welcome Tillis
GRAFENWOHR, GERMANY — The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, currently assigned to 1st Calvary Division Forward, a part of the U.S. Army Europe’s Regionally Aligned Forces mission, Atlantic Resolve, hosted it’s change of command ceremony where Col. Scott O’Neal relinquished command to Col. Terry Tillis on Tower Barracks Parade Field, Grafenwöhr, Germany July 20.
Keeping up with a long line of tradition, the Ceremony was held on a parade field, this was the first time that the brigade hosted one in Germany. Due to the ongoing world-wide pandemic COVID- 19, the ceremony was condensed to small formations of battalion commanders, their senior enlisted advisors, color bearers, and members of the brigade staff.
The reviewing officer for the ceremony was Brig. Gen. Brett Sylvia, commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division Forward.
“At this point, some of you may have noticed that I am not wearing the same patch as the esteemed men and women of the Spartan brigade,” said Sylvia. “Maj. Gen. [Tony] Aguto, 3rd Infantry Division’s commanding general, would have loved to have been here, but COVID restrictions on international travel keeps him from being physically present. After a thorough vetting process, I was deemed minimally sufficient to fill the task.”
O’Neal took command of the spartan brigade June 8, 2016. While in command he accomplished many tasks like converting an Infantry Brigade Combat Team to an Armored Brigade Combat Team.
“Scott took command of the Spartans as they were converting from an IBCT to an ABCT,” said Sylvia. “This is significant in every regard. The personnel are different, the equipment is different, and the training progression is different. The Spartans not only did all this but then deployed to the National Training Center and set records for operational readiness rates above 90%, lethality in live fires, and accomplishment against the world class opposing forces.”
Sylvia commended O’Neal for his accomplishments as the brigade’s commander, highlighting O’Neal’s leadership and innovation during the unprecedented early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through his 25 months in command, O’Neal, and the Spartan brigade partook in several command post exercises, war-fighters, gunneries, and deployed the organization to Europe during a pandemic, while keeping the unit safe and contributing to DEFENDEREurope 20, an exercise unlike any other of its kind in 25 years.
“Ladies and gentlemen, not a single Soldier in this brigade expected to be here today,” said O’Neal. “But here they are, after months of living in tents and taking care of equipment in dust and mud. Never a complaint and ready to fight.”
As he reflected on the brigade’s history, going back to 1917, where the brigade first flew it’s colors on a field outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, and the challenges that the Soldiers and Families of the brigade faced this year back in Georgia. He commended them with applause on their resilience during each new added chapter.
O’Neal closed out his remarks “My name is O’Neal. I am a Soldier and am proud to call the Soldiers represented by these colors, my credentials.”
In addition to the Sylvia remarks on O’Neal, he greeted Tillis to the Spartan Brigade.
“As we farewell one great leader, we also welcome another into the Family,” said Sylvia. “Terry your reputation precedes you in the best way possible and I am excited to see one great leader follow another. I am confident you will continue the trajectory towards excellence of this great brigade.
Tillis opened his remarks thanking Sylvia for presiding, 7th Army Training Command and United Service Organization staffs for assisting with the ceremony. He reiterated O’Neal’s thoughts saying the ability to execute at such a high level of readiness does not come by accident.
“The brigade’s success can largely be attributed to Scott and Missie O’Neal,” said Tillis. “The O’Neal’s are the epitome of an Army family. Your dedication, sacrifices, and genuine care for this brigade have set the conditions for us to focus on the mission at hand.”