MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Marine Corps Logistics Command welcomed its new commanding general Monday in a change of command ceremony at Schmid Field in front of building 3500.
Maj. Gen. Willie J. Williams relinquished command after four years to Brig. Gen James A. Kessler in front of hundreds of LOGCOM personnel, local guests from the surrounding community and other military and state dignitaries.
Kessler, formerly assigned as the director of Manpower Management Division, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Quantico, Va., expressed to those who attended the ceremony that it was a great privilege to take command of such a ‘wonderful’ organization and to serve the local community.
He spoke directly to Williams in his first speech as LOGCOM commander and said that he would continue serving the warfighter foremost.
“Sir, I know what this command means to you. You have my deepest promise that I will do my very best to take care of this command. Your focus has been on the warfighter, I was the recipient of that focus, and I can assure that my focus will remain the same,” he said.
Lt. Gen. Richard S. Kramlich, deputy commandant, Installations and Logistics, Headquarters Marine Corps, agreed that Kessler has big shoes to fill by replacing Williams, but adds that he has full faith in the new commander.
“I’ve known this Marine since he was a first lieutenant, and we’ve served together a few times, and I know his talent,” Kramlich added. “I couldn’t have been more pleased and less surprised when he was selected to brigadier general. He is exactly the right person to come down here and keep going what the Williams’ have accomplished.”
Williams said in his last speech before the large crowd gathered in honoring him that his reputation over the last four years was built on those teamwork and those around him.
“Anything that would be credited to me I will tell you that it is the command. It is those Marines and the civilian-Marines that made it happen. We were there as a team and we worked toward making it happen. This is the team that really made it happen for us,” Williams said. “We’ve had our ups and downs; we’ve had our highs and lows. But through it all we came though as a team.”
Williams also added that it was his depot commanders and directors who at every turn stepped up to every challenge and exceeded his expectations.
Staying focused on the warfighter was his utmost goal as commander, and part of that meant changing the way business was done from the past.
“Part of what I wanted to do, and what we endeavored to do as we went forward, was to get outside of the fence line of Albany, Georgia. The whole focus of that was because that’s were the warfighters were. They weren’t inside of the fence lines of Albany, Georgia. The warfighters were forward. They were in battle,” said Williams who is now assigned to Marine Corps Pacific Program Posture Office, Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington D.C. “That’s where I said Marine Corps Logistics Command needed to be. We could not just focus inside the wire, not just focus on running a business here but we had to focus on the business to run. That business to run is supporting the warfighters. I can honestly say that I think we made a difference.”
Beyond the footprint that Williams will leave with LOGCOM, his warm relations with the local community will linger as Kessler now takes command.
“It’s clear that this is a community about family and about friendship. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. I’ve felt for a long time that whatever achievements we may achieve individually or as organizations, that frequently those victories are hollow if we don’t have friends and or family with whom to share those victories. It’s clear that this community represents just that,” Kessler said. “My pledge to you is that we will provide our utmost support to the community just as you have clearly provided it to this command.”