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NEWS | April 15, 2019

Army Reserve Chemical Brigade changes commanders

By Sgt. 1st Class Brent Powell 76th U.S. Army Reserve Operational Response Command

On Saturday, April 13, under stormy, dark and ominous cloud-filled skies, the reins of the 415th Chemical Brigade, 76th Operational Response Command were officially transferred here in front of hundreds of Soldiers, family members, friends and special guests.

During the ceremony, Col. Michael C. Maguire, who has served as the brigade commander for the past four-years, officially turned over command to Col. Andrew J. Talmadge, who becomes the 21st commander in the unit’s long and proud history.

The guest of honor at the event was Brig. Gen. Doug Cherry, commanding general, 76th ORC, who opened the ceremony with remarks about the responsibility of command. 

“Command in general, and brigade command in particular is an awesome responsibility,” he said. “One that is as taxing as it is rewarding. It is not the job of a commander to keep his Soldiers out of harms way, but rather it is his job to prepare them to go into harms way to succeed in their mission, defeat the enemy and to return home with honor. Col. Maguire has done that job expertly.”

Cherry went on to applaud Maguire for his many accomplishments during his tenure. “You have done everything your Nation and your Army has asked of you, and your Soldiers and your units are better for having you as a commander.” he said. “Under your leadership, the 415th Brigade was the Task Force Operations Brigade for our Nation’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Response Enterprise prepared to respond to ‘America’s worst day’. Your brigade was the first unit in the Army Reserve to run a division wide platform gunnery exercise, and you prepared and deployed units in support of U.S. Army Central Command. You did this while simultaneously preparing your headquarters and subordinate units for their war time missions. For everything you have done, and sacrificed, we thank you, and I personally thank you.”

Cherry then turned to the incoming commander, Col. Talmadge and spoke to him about his expectations. “Today you assume the mantle of command and you are filling some big shoes,” he said. “You have done all the things necessary to prepare you for this moment, but nothing fully prepares you for the crucible of command. Today I charge you with the authority and responsibility of command of the 415th Chemical Brigade. My challenge to you is to lead your Soldiers with dignity and respect, set the example in all you do, execute the hard right and prepare your Soldiers for war and bring them home again.”

Once Cherry had finished speaking, Col. Maguire took the podium and addressed the crowd. 

“I’ve held the title of commander for 124 months, about 3700 days of my Army career,” he said. “Command is so much more than the passing of the colors. It’s about drawing from past experience, taking responsibility for the present and shaping the future. Today is the last day I hold that title, and it feels strange already.”

Maguire also addressed his Soldiers for the last time as their commander. “We have sweltered together at Fort Hood in 105 degree heat,” he said. “We have sloshed through mud and downpours of rain at exercise Guardian Response and we froze in the mornings when the weather wasn’t sure what it was going to do. Together we have forged bonds and made lifelong friendships, and I am proud to have served with each and every one of you. I have cherished the last four years of our accomplishments together and this will remain the high point of my career. How lucky I am to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Following Maguire, Talmage stepped up and officially addressed the Soldiers of his new command. “It is my great honor to stand before you and serve in a lineage of outstanding leaders, committed to the Soldiers, families and the mission,” he said. I’m deeply honored and genuinely humbled to be given this great responsibility, and I pledge that the challenges set before me will command all the energy and commitment that I can muster. Our contribution to the security of the United States has never been more important, and the 415th Chemical Brigade will continue to provide ready forces when the call comes.”