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Fort Bragg unit welcomes new leader

Fort Bragg's 1st Theater Sustainment Command said farewell to a leader Friday while welcoming a new chapter in the unit's history.

Maj. Gen. Kurt J. Stein, who had commanded the unit since July 2012, passed command to Maj. Gen. Darrell K. Williams.

Stein also retired Friday, ending a 38-year career.

Williams takes over as the unit continues to work on the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan while supporting operations across a 20-country region.

Troops from the 1st Theater Sustainment Command and its subordinate units traveled from Afghanistan, Kuwait and Egypt for the ceremony.

The command has forward headquarters in Kuwait and Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, commander of the Third Army and U.S. Army Central, and Gen. Dennis L. Via, commander of U.S. Army Material Command, praised Stein for his efforts and said they were confident Williams was well-suited to continue the mission.

Terry said Stein's career was defined by success.

He also praised the 1st Theater Sustainment Command as a whole for its efforts to send home an iron mountain of supplies from Iraq before turning its attention to Afghanistan.

"The isn't just drawing down forward operating bases," Terry said. "This is about drawing down huge logistics hubs."

Via said the command is making history with its efforts in Afghanistan, which have included moving thousands of vehicles and closing dozens of bases.

Stein was honored repeatedly during the ceremony.

He received a ceremonial shell from a 17-gun artillery salute, a U.S. flag, his two-star flag and several awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal.

His wife of 35 years, Debbie, was honored with the Secretary of the Army Public Service Award.

Stein thanked mentors and friends and said he was able to find purpose and challenge in life through the Army.

"I have been blessed with a wonderful family, a successful career, and most importantly, with 38 years worth of friendships and treasured memories with the finest men and women our country has to offer - our soldiers," he said.

"You ensured that our soldiers had what they needed on the battlefield in order to survive, fight and win," Stein said. "And most importantly, come home to their loved ones."

Stein and Williams invited the families of fallen soldiers to attend the ceremony, and a moment of silence was held for those troops with 1st Theater Sustainment Command ties who have died while serving overseas.

Williams, who most recently served as deputy chief of staff for U.S. Army Material Command, said he was no stranger to Fort Bragg.

He first came to the post in the spring of 1985 as a young lieutenant assigned to the 530th Supply and Services Battalion.

Williams said he entered his commander's office wearing freshly starched fatigues and his shiniest boots. He saluted, but his commander frowned and wouldn't return the honor.

Instead, the commander addressed Williams, who was still at attention.

"Son, in this battalion, we wear well-groomed mustaches," Williams said, parroting his former commander. "'Mine is well-groomed' - and he wasn't wearing one - 'When you get a well-groomed mustache, lieutenant, come back and see me.'"

On Friday, Williams - with a clean-shaven face - said it was good to be back on Fort Bragg.

He praised the post, saying it "remains synonymous with high standards, discipline and getting the mission done."

Williams said he recognized the difficult mission ahead of him.

"The challenge is significant," he said following the ceremony. "I know that we'll be successful. We have everything it takes."

"I'm excited and ready to get started," he said.

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