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NEWS | Sept. 26, 2015

Link moves up in the chain of command

By Staff Sgt. Andrea Merritt Army Reserve Medical Command

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - In a ceremony held Sept. 26, 2015, at the C.W. Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center, Maj. Gen. Mary E. Link assumed command of the Army Reserve Medical Command from Maj. Gen. Bryan R. Kelly.

The ceremony also served as a simultaneous platform for the ARMEDCOM Change of Responsibility, in which Command Sgt. Maj. Marlo V. Cross Jr, a native of Tempe, Ariz., assumed responsibility as the unit’s senior enlisted adviser from Command Sgt. Maj. Harold P. Estabrooks, a native of Midwest City, Okla., and a resident of St. Petersburg, Florida.

The day’s events kicked off with a promotion ceremony for Link, who went from the rank of brigadier general to major general, and it was truly a family affair. 

“Gen. Link is first and foremost a Soldier that has been given the responsibility as commissioned officer to serve in the rank of a general officer,” said Maj. Gen. Luis R.  Visot, the chief of staff for the United States Army Reserve, who served as the reviewing official for the ceremonies.

Visot, brought all the Soldiers and audience members into an intimate informal circle around Link and her family during her promotion.

“I really wanted to do this in front of my ARMEDCOM family,” said Link, who served as the deputy commanding general for ARMEDCOM for the past three years, until her promotion and subsequent assignment as commanding general. 

Link’s sons, Jacob and Matthew, pinned their mother’s new rank onto her uniform and beret.  Her brother, retired U.S. Air Force Col. Jon Link, administered the oath of office as Jake, Matt and daughter-in-law Kinsey Dona stood alongside.   

After reciting the oath of office, Link, with help of Cross, the incoming command sergeant major, uncased the commanding general’s individual flag, which symbolizes her leadership and represents her rank and branch of service.

Military customs and courtesies dictates that the flag be present at functions in which she has an active role and also that it is visibly displayed in front of the office of the general officer.

In accepting her new post, Link, a Ravenna, Nebraska native, became ARMEDCOM’s fifth commanding general as well as the first woman in the organization’s young ten-year history to take command.

“General Link assumes command with a wealth of knowledge and experience gained by more than 32 years of service to our Army, both on active duty and in the Army Reserve,” said Visot.

“I have no doubt that General Link will continue to provide the leadership, the guidance, mentorship and the professionalism required for this command to continue to thrive and flourish,” added Visot, a Ponce, Puerto Rico native.

Link began her career as an Army nurse in 1983 and during her 32 years of service has held staff and command positions at all levels of organization to include commander of the 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support) Operational Command Post Forward during a deployment to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait from 2010 to 2011.

“Our main mission is to take care of the wounded and ill Soldiers of the rest of the Army, and add to the other services also,” Link said. “It is a great challenge and I know we are up to the task.”

ARMEDCOM, which is comprised of about 8,000 Soldiers in 33 different states, centralizes the command of all Army Reserve medical units and Soldiers, and provides medical, dental, vision and veterinary services in support of operations globally. 

During his three-year tenure as commanding general of ARMEDCOM, Kelly oversaw the mobilization and deployment of more than 2,100 Soldiers in support of over 30 major missions to include Innovative Readiness Training missions from Alaska to Appalachia and California to New England.

“General Kelly, sir, you have made a tremendous impact upon the lives, hearts, souls and minds of your Soldiers,” Visot said. “You are truly a Soldier’s Soldier. Your exceptional service to this command and our grateful nation is very much appreciated.”

Kelly, a Baltimore native and resident of East Sandwich, Massachusetts, is retiring after more than 26 years of dedicated service to the Army Reserve and plans to spend more time with his family and continue his civilian career as a clinical psychologist.

Kelly also had powerful parting words for the ARMEDCOM Soldiers he has proudly led for the last three years.

“I just want to leave you with a couple of thoughts. Never accept defeat at any level. Great Soldiers can accomplish anything regardless of the challenge,” Kelly said. 

“Each and every one of you makes a difference at an individual level and every one of you as a team is undefeatable. It has been a joy to be your commander … God bless you and I will forever remember you.”

In leaving behind the last unit he will lead, Kelly offered words that attested to capability of the incoming commander.

“Major General Link has been and outstanding deputy commander. I’m looking forward to seeing her lead the formation for the next three years,” Kelly said. 

“Her command team … is going to create a new chemistry here at ARMEDCOM that is going to permit the job that you have been doing to raise to the next level.”