FORT TOTTEN, N.Y. –
"All others may perish but the colors live on." With those ceremonial words, the change of command between outgoing 151st Theater Information Operations Group (TIOG) commander, U.S. Army Reserve Col. Marlene K. Markotan, and incoming commander U.S. Army Reserve Col. Franklin J. Estes began at historic Fort Totten, New York, June 18, 2021.
While U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Jonathan P. Berliner, commander, 303rd Information Operations Army Service Component Command Support Detachment, presided over the ceremony, U.S. Army Reserve Command Sgt. Maj. Troy A. Hershberger, acting TIOG command sergeant major, took charge of the colors, first passing them to Markotan, then receiving them back from Estes. The symbolic moment served as a visualization of the transfer of authority to Estes, and signified his trust and confidence in the leaders and Soldiers of the organization as he returned the colors to the Command Sergeant Major for safe-keeping.
Following the flag ceremony, it was time for the outgoing commander to speak one last time and after thanking God for the opportunity and her family for their support, Markotan spoke directly to her TIOG Soldiers.
“It was an honor to serve as your commander for the last 24 months,” said Markotan. “ I consider this to be the best assignment I have had in my 29 years in the military and it is because of all of you. You all made my command a success through your hard work and dedication to the mission. I could not be successful without all of you. You make a commander look great! I want to thank each and every one of you. I know you will continue to do great things under COL Estes’ tenure and give him the same support you gave me.”
Markotan lauded the flexibility of her Soldiers through virtual Battle Assemblies, conference calls, cancelled or rescheduled events and training exercises. Despite these challenges, she lauded the TIOG Soldiers for their resiliency and determination to never cease training for their global mission.
With a thank you to the New York City Parks, Police and Fire departments for their ceremony support, and a final “Phantom 6 - out,” Markotan stepped away from the podium and her command, making way for Estes to take his place as the new senior leader.
“Commanding the 151st TIOG is a tremendous honor and privilege,'' began COL Franklin Estes, incoming commander for the 151st TIOG. “I would like to thank the USACAPOC Command Team for trusting me with the responsibility that comes with this position. I understand the intense competition that is now occurring in the global information sphere and will ensure that we provide Information Operations capabilities that place the U.S. in a position of advantage,” he said.
Estes went on to thank several others, including his family for their tireless support of his goals and the time taken away to meet the needs of the Army, as well as friends and mentors who allowed him to learn and grow through his career.
The Soldiers of the 151st TIOG were also included as Estes committed to the future success of the unit.
“I promise to give everything I have to ensure the TIOG continues to succeed operationally while remaining a unit that gives individuals the opportunity to achieve holistic success in their lives,” said Estes. “I thank you in advance for the hard work we’ll be doing together in Information Operations, which is perhaps the most relevant discipline in the military today.”
Guests and Soldiers were invited to join the new commander for refreshments following the ceremony, and guided tours of the Old Fort Totten Battery and General Lee building areas were provided for those who were interested.