KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany –
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the U.S. Army to alter traditions, including change-of-command ceremonies.
Instead of standing in formation, Lt. Col. Eric Samaritoni's last request as commander of the 773rd Civil Support Team, 7th Mission Support Command, was to celebrate diversity here, June 12.
During his two-year tenure with the team, Samaritoni led Soldiers from 16 different cultures: America Samoa, Belarus, Colombia, Ecuador, Germany, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Nepal, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Sierra Leone, and the United Kingdom.
"As I reflect on my time as the commander of these Soldiers and think about the current events going on in the United States, I am thankful that Soldiers from different backgrounds came together to form one of the most cohesive units I have ever been a part of," said Samaritoni. His next assignment will be with 3rd Brigade (Chemical), 102nd Training Division at Fort Leonard, Missouri.
The unit’s deputy commander, Maj. Ralph Scott, is taking the reigns as Samaritoni departs.
"I have no doubt 773rd CST will continue to thrive under Ralph's leadership,” said Samaritoni. “He has done an incredible job as my deputy and he is the right officer to take the guidon."
Scott, a native from Sierra Leonne, West Africa, takes command of the 773rd after serving as the deputy commander for the last 12 months. He arrived in Germany last summer after graduating from the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College.
"It’s an honor to take charge of this unit and carry on the traditions,” said Scott. “We will continue to observe the monthly "Sets and Reps" (Samaritoni) started to help us understand, appreciate, and embrace our differences."
The 773rd initiated "Sets and Reps" in October of 2019 where the team spends one hour a month discussing current issues in the U.S. Army, and to help develop quick responses to violations of the Army's Equal Opportunity and Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention policies. This program continues to evolve every month and has even turned into a cultural potluck.
"I will miss leading these Soldiers and I will definitely miss these cultural potlucks," Samaritoni said.
To close out his time as commander, Samaritoni reminded the unit of how important it is to stick together and strive to be models whom Americans can follow.