The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support bid farewell to one commander and welcomed another during a change of command ceremony June 25 in Philadelphia.
During the ceremony, Troop Support employees and distinguished guests witnessed the arrival of Army Brig. Gen. Gavin Lawrence and the departure of Army Brig. Gen. Mark Simerly
It is an “honor and a privilege” to return to Philadelphia to lead a great organization, with such an important mission Lawrence said.
Lawrence, a native of Roslyn, Pennsylvania, and graduate of Bishop McDevitt High School, took the helm of Troop Support during the ceremony held only six miles from his childhood alma mater. As the commander, he leads the largest federal workforce in Philadelphia with more than 2,000 employees and a $17.6 billion warfighter support mission.
DLA Director Army Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams presided over the ceremony, and opened by praising the organization’s “venerable and storied” legacy in Philadelphia, as well as both leaders for their contributions to the agency and its partners.
He said that the military places a “premium on officers” chosen for command of Troop Support, and that Simerly and Lawrence were two such outstanding leaders.
“I would say, from personal knowledge about both of these officers and their families, that it does not get any better than this,” Williams said.
Williams also noted that Lawrence’s career successes and warfighter support – as well as the fact that he is a Philadelphia sports fan – made him “the absolute right person” to lead Troop Support and continue the Simerly’ s progress.
“[Simerly] has proven to be an exceptional leader who epitomizes strong support to the warfighter and indeed to the entire whole of government,” Williams said.
Simerly said that leaving Troop Support to take command of the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command in South Korea was “bittersweet,” but that he would be taking a lesson with him from the Troop Support workforce.
“To understand [Troop Support] I had to re-learn the meaning of the word grit,” Simerly said. “It is the passion of persistence, the courage of resolve and strength of character. Grit is the essence of this great Troop Support team, and it has been my greatest privilege and honor to command DLA Troop Support for these past two years. Stay gritty!”
In his closing remarks, Lawrence praised the workforce’s dedication to its mission throughout a history of change, and said he intends to continue to build on its legacy.
“There is and always remains one constant [for Troop Support]: an uncompromising commitment to innovation, service readiness and providing our nation’s warfighters and Whole of Government partners the highest level of support,” Lawrence said. ”This is, and always will remain, our focus.”