By Daniel Sherrier
U.S. Army Garrison Fort A.P. Hill has new leadership.
Lt. Col. Peter Dargle, garrison commander since 2012, relinquished his authority in a change of command ceremony Friday afternoon, and responsibility for the installation was passed on to incoming garrison commander, Lt. Col. David A. Meyer.
Also, Sgt. Maj. Weiquan A. Ho succeeds Sgt. Maj. Keith R. Whitcomb as garrison command sergeant major, the second-in-command position.
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters, National Capital Region, said during the ceremony, “When I think of both Command Sgt. Whitcomb and Lt. Col. Dargle, I think of loyalty. … We owe both of them a lot, and we owe their families a lot for all the sacrifices they’ve made.”
Buchanan continued, “They have gone out of their way to make sure that A.P. Hill was a training friendly place, and I know it because I command some organizations that do a lot of training here, and everybody is always happy to come here and train.
“I appreciate both your leadership and your loyalty to your customers, which are our troops who train here. You also demonstrate your loyalty to your subordinates, and in this case I’m not talking dominantly military troops, but your civilian workforce.”
Buchanan noted the team’s leadership “in helping to increase the wellness of your civilian workforce.”
He said, “I think it’s making a heck of a difference, and I know that everybody here really does appreciate that.”
To the incoming leaders, Buchanan said, “We have tremendous confidence in your leadership ability. Welcome to the team. You’re going to love it here. This is a great place. The strength of the nation is the Army. The strength of the Army is the soldiers. The strength of our soldiers is our families, and that’s what makes this Army strong.”
Davis D. Tindoll, Jr., director, Atlantic Region, U.S. Army Installation Management Command, said, “The Army does not train soldiers to be garrison commanders—but it does develop leaders, leaders who are capable, innovative, and motivated to handle the challenges of command. Lt. Col. Peter Dargle is one of those outstanding leaders.”
Tindoll noted several awards earned by the installation under Dargle’s tenure, such as 2013 Army Communities of Excellence Bronze Award and a 2014 Army Communities of Excellence Silver Award.
Whitcomb “worked hard to establish a culture of personal accountability during his tenure here,” Tindoll said. “Working with Lt. Col. Dargle, Command Sgt. Maj. Whitcomb was instrumental in building a sustained troop construction program, saving Fort A.P. Hill hundreds of thousands of SRM (strategic ranking model) dollars now and in the future.”
Tindoll also thanked Dargle’s wife, Jean, and Whitcomb’s wife, Regina, for their support of the garrison.
“The Dargle-Whitcomb command team has done their part in making Fort A.P. Hill, literally, a model installation,” Tindoll said.
In welcoming the new team, Tindoll cited Meyer’s experience serving combat tours in Baghdad and Kandahar, as well as his time as an observer-controller at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin in California. Meyer has also been a professor of military science at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Ho served in the Army’s 1st, 3rd, and 5th Special Forces groups as well as the Asymmetric Warfare Group. He most recently served as sergeant major for Alpha Company 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) for Operation Enduring Freedom—Philippines Task Force.
“I am confident that you will bring new energy and excellence to Fort A.P. Hill,” Tindoll said.
In his farewell remarks, Dargle said, “While we take time today to reflect on the past, today is also about looking forward—and the future of this gem we call Fort A.P. Hill, nestled, not always so quietly, in the rolling terrain of Caroline County.
“For 73 years, Fort A.P. Hill’s mission has remained remarkably consistent—a mission sincere in purpose and embodied in our motto to provide the ‘Best Training and Support…Anywhere.’”
Dargle added, “Our enduring legacy is found in the success of the Warrior who passed through our gate yesterday, trains on one of our ranges today, deploys to a distant battlefield tomorrow, performing their global mission with proficiency, professionalism, and courage, and finally returns home safely.
“This only happens because of what you, we do at A.P. Hill every day to ensure their success—the seemingly simple tasks of your daily workload translate to profound impacts on the readiness of our Warriors to fight and win our nation’s battles.”
Dargle concluded, “It is altogether fitting that I close these remarks by issuing a last challenge to Fort A.P. Hill, one that I know Lt. Col. Meyer and Command Sgt. Maj. Ho are more than ready to take on and lead you to accomplish—that you dedicate yourselves to completing the unfinished work that we faithfully started the past two years.
“Nothing matters more than your will to succeed. Don’t back down from challenges, and quickly get over it when you think you have failed, because your resolve to complete this challenge ensures the deeds of the past become the cornerstone for greater accomplishments in the future.”
Meyer commented, “Thank you very much for entrusting me to lead this great organization of dedicated professionals. … We will not let you down.”
Dargle now heads to the “Big Red One,” which is the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas.
Whitcomb will serve as an instructor at the Combined Arms Center in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.