NEWS | May 24, 2021

Passing the guidon: Stinger Battalion bids farewell to former commander, welcomes new commander

By Staff Sgt. John Carkeet IV 177th Armored Brigade

"My time in command has been special. Command has been a dream of mine since joining the Marine Corps in 1999. I got to live my dream out with all of you and this is something I will cherish the rest of my life."

U.S. Army Capt. Robert Dembowiak's farewell address brought smiles and tears among the Soldiers and families who gathered outside 5th Armored Brigade Headquarters Building for the 3-347th Training Support Battalion's Change of Command Ceremony conducted May 21, 2021. The event marked the conclusion of Dembowiak's 13-month tenure as the battalion's Headquarters & Headquarters Company commander. He took command at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in April 2021, an unprecedented period where every Soldier in the battalion faced travel bans, social distancing protocols, and supply shortages while simultaneously preparing for a yearlong mobilization through virtual battle assemblies.

In August 2020, Dembowiak, a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, led more than 70 Soldiers to Fort Bliss, Texas, where they immersed themselves into 5th Armored Brigade's multiple, high tempo missions that prepare thousands of Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers for their overseas deployments and thousands of others for their transition to their homes, families and civilian employers.

Dembowiak stepped down from command after accepting a full-time position as an operations officer for the 352nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion based in Macon, Georgia.

"My report date for my [Active, Guard Reserve program] assignment would not allow me to finish this mission with you," said Dembowiak, who began his 19-year military career in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1999 and earned his commission in the Ohio Army National Guard in 2013. "I know I wasn’t able to solve all the issues within the unit, but if I’m leaving the unit better than I found it that’s all I can ask for."

U.S. Army Capt. Eric J. Bosco, the battalion's primary intelligence and communications officer, officially took command moments after Dembowiak relinquished the 3-347th’s guidon to Army Lt. Col. Jeremy Hall, the battalion commander.

"I am proud of the work you have done and the work that you will continue to do. You should be proud as well," Bosco remarked to the Soldiers and families in attendance. "I encourage all of you to continue to be there for one another, to be that support system we all need, especially since most of us have been away from our families for nine months now."

Bosco will oversee the battalion’s final months in Fort Bliss as it prepares to hand authority to another task force and transition back its headquarters in Orlando.

"We are all a family, even those who are currently tasked out to other organizations," said Bosco, an Orlando native who when not wearing an Army uniform teaches history at a Central Florida High School. "Finish strong and never sacrifice the standards."