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NEWS | March 7, 2016

New brigade commander: taking command feels like homecoming

By Staff Sgt. Debralee Best 411th Engineer Brigade

NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. – The 411th Engineer Brigade changed leadership in a ceremony in New Windsor, New York.

Col. Ralph Henning relinquished command to Col. Matthew Warne March 5 after serving as the brigade commander for two years.

Henning is appreciative of those years and the people who helped him succeed during them.

“Right now in my heart all I have is nothing but gratitude,” said Henning. “Gratitude toward a lot of people … The successes of the 411th during the past two years were not just achieved by me or a few but by many.”

While Henning is humble about his contributions, his leadership saw a fire in him, which made him successful.

“I want to say to Ralph Henning: thank you very much for taking on the challenge and for putting your passion for the Army and for Soldiers into your work,” said Maj. Gen. Tracy A. Thompson, commanding general, 412th Theater Engineer Command and reviewer of the ceremony. “It’s noticeable and your dedication is noticeable. I hope your successor brings that same passion and dedication to the job. From all I’ve heard, I believe Matt will.”

While taking a command position provides many challenges, due to its size the 411th is a more unique brigade.

“It’s a tough ride. It is things happening very fast and from many different directions. This is an extremely large command. It’s probably one of the largest [colonel] commands in the entire Army Reserve,” said Thompson. “So with that comes a lot of really fun things, a lot of interesting things, a lot of things that will make Matt a better officer and make Matt a better employee on the civilian side. With that also will come some bigger bags under his eyes and one or two gray hairs by the end of his tenure.”

Henning also gave some advise to Warne about taking command of the 411th Engineer Brigade.

“Col. Warne, you have a great task ahead of you. Kiss your wife and assure her you love her and remind her that you will have a mistress for the next two years, she goes by the name of 4-1-1,” said Henning. “Col. Warne, in your hands you now have the care of the Soldiers of the 411th Engineer Brigade. Congratulations!”

While the road ahead will be difficult for Warne, it was also be rewarding.

“It is a great job,” said Thompson. “I think you can ask anyone whose gone through jobs like this, starting with company command, and they will tell you at the same time it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever done and one of the things they’ve loved the most in life because just like anything else in life, the things that are the hardest and most challenging offer us the most satisfaction in the end.”

Warne believes he is ready for that challenge.

“Here I stand before you today and it’s a testament to anyone who wants to work hard at a craft and deliver yourself to something that is better and bigger than you,” said Warne.

Warne has been preparing for this day as it has special significance for him.

“I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster the past couple of months trying to envision this special day with lasting excitement, honor and respect,” said Warne. “It is a distinct honor and privilege to assume command of one of the finest brigades in the U.S. Army. It is especially special for me as this is like a homecoming for me as I have proudly served for 17 years with the 411th.”

Warne begins his two-year tenure with pride.

“I take great pride in the ownership of the brigade colors and the Soldiers that wear the 411th distinct unit patch … Brigade of Choice!”