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Summertime brings new commanders to MTMC.

Every summer, about one-third of the Military Traffic Management Command's port units receive new commanders.

This summer, nine new officers assumed command--the most notable Brig. Gen. Barbara Doornink at the MTMC Operations Center, Fort Eustis, Va.

The change of command brings new energy and enthusiasm to unit activities and life. Policies are readopted, modified--or discarded.

Commanders benefit, too. Finishing a demanding two-year tour of duty, they move to a variety of new challenges--in some cases, advanced schooling or a joint assignment; in other cases, retirement.

The Aug. 24 change of command at MTMC's 842nd Transportation Battalion, Fort Monmouth, N.J., was no different--save for the arrival of both a new commander, Maj. Mike Cashner, and a new organizational flag, the 956th Transportation Co.

The ceremony on that Friday was the last duty day for Lt. Col. Joseph Crowley, the outgoing commander. Crowley is en route to a new assignment with the Defense Intelligence Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C.

Outgoing Commander

"It's been a fast two years," said Crowley.

It is 8 a.m. Crowley and Cashner are in the empty auditorium of the Communications & Electronics Command.

With their feet and their hands, the two men practice the movements and motions that will bring a new flag and a new commander to the Fort Monmouth port unit.

Crowley can be proud of his term of service.

In the wake of the movement of the unit from Bayonne to Fort Monmouth, ties have been strengthened with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. One of the most positive of these actions is the authority's decision to extend a railroad track from Bayonne to Staten Island--providing MTMC with seamless intermodal service for rail cargoes going to the Howland Hook Container


Indeed, in the fall of 1999, a 10th Mountain Division task force rail move had to be unloaded at Military Ocean Terminal Bayonne--a closed installation. The Fort Drum, N.Y., equipment was then driven by road convoy to Staten Island for overseas shipment.

Crowley will be honored for his work with the port authority.

He will receive a Meritorious Service Medal for developing "one continuous operations team" between his unit and the port authority.

Incoming Commander

As the rehearsal proceeds, the enthusiasm of Cashner is obvious.

Cashner's steps are broad and bold as he practices entering the auditorium to initiate the ceremony. He is not new to the command. Previously, he served as commander of a transportation company in the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division, at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Everything about his demeanor shows a soldier ready to take charge. Pausing a moment, he assists Sgt. 1st Class Reginald Coonce, a Reserve soldier participating in the ceremony, with adjustments to his new beret. Cashner is a commander--and teacher. That enthusiasm was evident in February when MTMC held a weeklong session to orient its new commanders. Cashner's name was kept off the list--after all, it was reasoned, he was receiving valuable training at Command & General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Undaunted, Cashner worked the phones and negotiated an agreement with officers at the college, the Military Traffic Management Command, and his branch specialty. It allowed him to attend the new commanders' training, and later, make up missed college classes.

Later, when Cashner walked into MTMC Headquarters for the class, coordinator Mike Coppedge was stunned.

"You are not supposed to be here!" said an amazed Coppedge.

Reviewing Officer

On Aug. 3, Brig. Gen. Doornink participated in her own change-of-command ceremony.

Now she is officiating at such a ceremony at one of her new subordinate units.

The Ceremony

The ceremony proceeds with crisp, military precision.

The 842nd Transportation Battalion flag is retired and cased; the new 956th Transportation Co. flag is activated.

The audience members settle back in their seats.

Final Thoughts

The three commanders provide some individual reflections.

"The re-engineering in the Military Traffic Management Command continues," said Doornink, referring to the development of the MTMC Operations Center at Fort Eustis.

"The Operations Center will become the heartbeat of MTMC."

Doornink praised the work of the Fort Monmouth unit. Accomplishments in the past two years, she said, included restructuring from a battalion to a company; participating in a dozen major missions; and reconfiguring a ship superstructure to accommodate a load--the M/V Express at Howland Hook Container Terminal on Aug. 9.

Crowley said the 842nd flag would fly again at a MTMC port when it replaces the flag of the 596th Transportation Group, Beaumont, Texas.

His proudest accomplishment, said Crowley, was modifying the unit's battalion structure to a company structure with a minimum of staffing impact.

Cashner's inner thoughts formulated into words.

"There is no other job in the Army I would want more than the job I am to begin today," said Cashner.

The new commander has slowly assimilated into the new unit. For the past six weeks, he has been observing Crowley and the unit at work, listening and watching.

"This is an amazing group of folks, willing and able to handle any challenge," said Cashner.


Participants filed outside. Most were heading to a change-of-command reception that was scheduled at the nearby Lane Hall social club.

As the auditorium grew quiet, Sgt. 1st Class James Van Emburgh, the unit's top NCO, carefully furled the flag of the 842nd Transportation Battalion.

"This is going out via FedEx to the Beaumont unit today," said Van Emburgh.

Outside, sunshine bathed the morning. The air was pleasant and fresh--last night's rain had moved offshore.

The day was wonderfully sunlit. The weekend would be a good one.

Another prediction? An excellent tour-of-duty for Maj. Mike Cashner and the transporters of the 956th Transportation Co.
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Title Annotation:Military Traffic Management Command
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2001
Previous Article:Vivid images from war linger for Polish patriot.
Next Article:New unit flag signals changes in MTMC port structure.

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