Previous jobs such as Navy submarine nuclear power plant mechanical operator, naval officer and Army reserve medical supply specialist, make Lt. Col. Aaron T. Workman’s resume unique to say the least.
On Friday, the abundantly experienced leader took charge of the 16th Ordnance Battalion, replacing Lt. Col. Misti L. Frodyma who is heading for the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa. Col. Clydea M. Prichard-Brown, 59th Ord. Brigade commander, presided over the change of command conducted in Ball Auditorium and livestreamed on the battalion’s Facebook page.
“Aaron comes to us with a wealth of experience and an awesome background,” Prichard-Brown acknowledged in her remarks. “All I can say is, I can’t wait for the book to be written on your life, as it would make an awesome story.”
She expressed confidence in Workman’s leadership abilities, saying he’s “ready to step right in” and keep the mission going in the 16th. “We are so excited to have you on the team,” Prichard-Brown said, “and I know you will continue to do great and wonderful things for the battalion and the brigade.”
When the father of two took his turn at the lectern, he emotionally thanked his wife, Dawn, and his children and parents for showing him what love is. He also thanked Frodyma for her work with the battalion and its Soldiers he now leads.
“Misti, as I have said before, I feel a little guilty following you in command,” Workman said. “If I only maintain what you have built, the 16th will continue to be successful. You have set a very high standard that will be tough to surpass.”
After the ceremony, he expanded on those thoughts a bit while discussing his first steps as the new commander. “Lt. Col. Frodyma has really set a solid standard, so I’m going to watch and see what happens for a while. I’m going to see where I can make a difference – where I can make improvements – realizing that may be a challenge as everything is very good.”
He further commented with a satisfied smile, “The professionalism I have seen in the 16th’s Soldiers is impressive, and I think I have the opportunity to serve with some of America’s best right here in this formation.
“My leadership style is to empower people who work with me, then get out of their way,” Workman said. “I see it as my duty to give them the tools they need to do what they do and allow them to express their talents and their abilities in the best way possible. It’ll work just fine with this group.”
Prichard-Brown’s goodbye to the departing commander included a bit of their combined history, as both had previously served together at the Pentagon. Frodyma was the military assistant to the Under Secretary of the Army at the time.
“I would see or hear of Misti handling huge tasks and preventing huge catastrophes for her boss and for other key leaders within the Pentagon,” she recalled. “She had a great reputation as a brilliant problem solver, detailed planner and all-around great person that followed her, and more importantly, preceded her to each assignment. When I found out that Misti was the 16th’s commander, I already knew they had been in great and caring hands.
“It was never as evident as when I attended her farewell luncheon the other day,” the colonel continued. “To see the heartfelt emotion, passion and tears shed by her Soldiers as they shared stories of Misti’s personal and professional impact on their lives warmed my heart and let me know she continued to live up to her reputation. We’re going to miss you and (husband) Jesus, as you were both a huge part of the 16th’s family.”
The well-liked outgoing commander’s turn at the microphone was an emotional mix of sadness and pride. While saying thank you to family, Soldiers, mentors and friends, Frodyma had to stop to compose herself a number of times, her face trickled with tears as she made her way through her speech.
“Words cannot express the gratitude I have for each of you … for your professionalism and hard work throughout the last two years,” she said. “Thank you for the development, experience, assistance and counsel. Your efforts set the foundation that enabled me to serve and continue serving in this honorable capacity.”
When she spoke of the 16th’s accomplishments, her voice boomed. She boasted about the number of Soldiers trained, the type of training done, the impossible feats accomplished, the teamwork from the Soldiers she commanded.
“This team of teams led a number of successful efforts over the past two years from annual holiday block leave …,” she said starting a long list of accomplishments that ended with, “all while winning the FY19 Commander’s Cup and still receiving, training and graduating Soldiers each and every week … even amid COVID-19.
“The cadre in the battalion meet every challenge working 12-18 hour days and on weekends to ensure our most valuable asset – our people – are trained, developed, educated, safe and secure. Thank you for all you do for the Ordnance School and the military. Your wealth of knowledge, competency and understanding of the history associated with operations continues to be invaluable to improving the force.
“Lt. Col. Workman, you have been selected and will have the honor and privilege to lead some of the finest Soldiers and civilians the military has to offer,” Frodyma concluded. “They will amaze you each and every day with their character, competence and commitment to ensure that the Ordnance School produces over 5,000 high quality Ord warriors and sustainment professional for the operational force annually.”