A Soldier who launched her career as a logistician at the Quartermaster School here in 1993 has returned to Fort Lee as the 42nd Chief of Ordnance.
Brig. Gen. Michelle M.T. Letcher also assumed duties as the Ordnance School commandant – the companion to the corps commander title – during an assumption of command ceremony in the Ordnance Training Support Facility Tuesday.
Letcher replaced Brig. Gen. Heidi J. Hoyle who departed May 18 for a new assignment as commander of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
Maj. Gen. Rodney D. Fogg, CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general, presided over the formalities that included the traditional passing of the ordnance colors to Letcher. Col. Stephen F. Elder, interim Chief of Ordnance, and Command Sgt. Maj. Petra Casarez, Ord. Corps CSM, rounded out the change of command presentation.
Letcher’s three sons also were present for the COVID-19-restricted ceremony. Her husband, Col. Kenneth Letcher, is deployed to Afghanistan but watched the event live via Facebook, according to his spouse.
Hailing from Oak Forest, Ill., Letcher recalled some of her initial entry training experiences here during remarks to the audience. She distinctly remembered the field training exercise portion called Log Warrior, ironically taking place where the Ord. School sits today.
“I don’t remember the company commander or the leader above him or even their names, but what I do remember is the lieutenant and those noncommissioned officers at the FTX who prepared me to be a Soldier in the United States Army. They were professional leaders who taught me, prepared me and built confidence in my skillset. That was my introduction to Fort Lee, to TRADOC and more importantly, to Army leadership.”
Letcher then segued to the point she was making about the important charge leaders have to train and impact troops.
“Everyone in this room has a responsibility to the United States Soldier,” she said, “and as your 42nd Chief of Ordnance, I am honored and humbled to be as accountable to the private getting off the bus as I am to the most senior leaders in our Army because ‘Support Starts Here.’ ‘Go Ordnance.’”
They are the formal and informal mottos for CASCOM and the Ord. School, respectively.
During preceding remarks, Fogg thanked and acknowledged the few who were present and the many viewing online. Additionally, he was appreciative of Elder, who assumed interim COO duties while also holding the position of Explosive Ordnance Disposal commandant.
“Thank you. We appreciate the work you’ve done covering down after Brig. Gen. Hoyle’s departure,” he said, also noting Elder’s many accomplishments.
As for Letcher, Fogg said the “Army could not have chosen a better prepared leader … to take the reigns as Chief of Ordnance.”
Letcher arrives here after serving as commanding general of the Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command, Rock Island Arsenal, Ill.
“Over the last two years, JMC – led by Gen. Letcher – provided worldwide ammunition support for our joint forces to include O (operational) plans and contingencies,” Fogg said. “(Her efforts) have made a huge difference. She enhanced mission readiness for multiple combatant commanders. These efforts and the experiences at JMC really fit perfectly into the already impressive resume of an incoming Chief of Ordnance.”
Elaborating on the merits of Letcher’s experience prior to JMC, Fogg said she took positions with the greatest challenges.
“For 25 years, Michelle has taken all the tough jobs and has been deployed many times,” he acknowledged. “Most significant were (the jobs) of company commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom, CSSB battalion commander during Operation Enduring Freedom and commanding the 16th Sustainment Brigade, U.S. Army Europe.
“She is indeed the right person at the right time to serve as the 42nd Chief of Ordnance. She is an exceptional officer, leader and sustainer. There are no doubts in my mind that Michelle is absolutely the right person to lead the Ordnance School and its Soldiers to new heights of training and readiness.”
Letcher’s assignments also include positions as deputy support operations officer, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Fort Hood, Texas; lieutenant colonel assignment officer, Human Resources Command, Fort Knox, Ky.: and battalion S-3, 26th Forward Support Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.
As COO, Letcher will oversee the training and readiness of more than 175,000 Soldiers and others who annually undergo Ordnance School training here and at several other locations around the country.
She also leads effort to develop doctrine and training for more than 100,000 Ordnance Soldiers across three components.