FORT LEE, Va.-- Sharing fond and respectful memories of their former commander, Col. Gregory S. Townsend, who tragically passed away in April, the 23rd Quartermaster Brigade family assembled at Life Line Field here June 28 to welcome their new senior leader, Col. Jason P. Affolder.
He took the reins of command from Lt. Col. Brian S. Neill, the Dragon Brigade’s former executive officer who stepped in to lead the organization in the wake of Townsend’s death. Brig. Gen. Douglas M. McBride Jr., QM General, presided over the ceremony.
Also present for the event were Maj. Gen. Rodney D. Fogg, CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general; Command Sgt. Maj. Michael J. Perry III, CASCOM CSM; and a host of military members and civilians from across Fort Lee and its surrounding communities.
Affolder, a native of Cranberry Township, Penn., comes to Fort Lee from the Pentagon where he served on the Army staff as a logistics organizational integrator in the G-3/5/7 Force Management Directorate and force integrator division chief in the G-4 Operations Directorate.
A 1996 West Point graduate, Affolder was commissioned as a quartermaster and went on to build a resume featuring many tactical unit assignments. McBride said the colonel’s record is such that he leaves a trail of success in his wake.
“He is, without question, exactly the right person at the right time to serve as the 23rd Quartermaster Brigade commander,” said the 55th QM General. “He will excel (pause) because that’s what he does best – an exceptional officer, leader, quartermaster and logistician. There’s no doubt in my mind Col. Affolder will continue to take the brigade to new heights and training readiness levels.”
Thanking his superiors for entrusting him with the position, Affolder said it is an honor to have their confidence in his ability to lead. He expressed how he and his wife are looking forward to “growing in their relationships (with the community) together.” Affolder also thanked friends who had made the trip from northern Virginia; the many officers and Soldiers who impacted his career; and his wife and kids, three of whom were present.
Affolder further acknowledged his spouse’s impact on their military career, noting they recently celebrated their 23rd year of marriage. “Thank you,” he said with an affectionate look. “Welcome to the year of the dragon.”
Neill, who was thrust into brigade leadership following the death of his mentor, thanked his family and others for the support they displayed after Townsend’s death, and welcomed the new commander and his family. With his casual humor, he also considerably lightened the mood of the crowd, most of whom were occupied with fresh memories of Townsend’s loss.
“The Army sends us the best, and you are the best, sir, to train the sons and daughter who will be the future of the Quartermaster Corps,” he said. “I know you deserve to be here today, after your years of hard work and your talent. And I’m not just saying that so you will sign my pass and leave for next week.”
On a more serious note, Neill challenged his replacement to “vigorously pursue” the goal of molding initial entry Soldiers under his command “as the next generation of the Quartermaster Corps and the future leaders within the Army because they will become our command sergeants major, our warrant officers and maybe even our lieutenant colonels who will one day be standing at command events like this one today.”
McBride, who spoke at length about Townsend’s passing, said Neill and brigade CSM Lisa Haney rose to the challenge of guiding the brigade through a difficult period of tribulation and transition.
“Just two months ago,” he said, “Lt. Col. Neill assumed command of the 23rd QM Brigade as the result of the unfortunate loss of Col. Greg Townsend. Brian immediately stepped up and has led this brigade with distinction. Alongside him has been a steadfast, strong, distinguished, resilient command sergeant major in CSM Haney. Together, they have been the bridge of strength filling a huge gap created by the tragic loss of Col. Greg Townsend.”
Furthermore, McBride said the troops responded to the brigade’s leadership team, evidenced by the execution of Townsend’s memorial service and the continuity of the brigade’s mission of producing day-one-ready quartermaster Soldiers.
“I cannot be prouder of Brian’s and CSM Haney’s leadership,” he said. “It’s truly a testament to the 23rd QM Brigade’s professionalism and dedication, and I definitely want to thank you.”
Townsend was fatally injured April 18 on U.S. Route 460. The father of four was on his way from work when he stopped his vehicle to help a stranded motorist change a tire. Working underneath the vehicle, Townsend had nearly completed the repairs when it collapsed and pinned him. He died April 22.
The 23rd QM Bde., an element of the Quartermaster School, trains more than 23,000 Soldiers annually in multiple occupational specialties including mortuary affairs, automated logistics, petroleum and water distribution, parachute rigging, field services and more.