Fort Bliss, 1st Armored Division welcome new leader, Maj. Gen. Patrick Matlock

Maj. Gen. Patrick E. Matlock, a two-star general, will lead one of the Army's largest posts at Fort Bliss, home to about 30,000 soldiers and the famed U.S. tank division nicknamed "Old Ironsides."


By DANIEL BORUNDA | The El Paso Times (Tribune News Service) | Published: July 12, 2018

FORT BLISS, Texas — The pride, tradition and pageantry of the U.S. Army was on full display Thursday as Fort Bliss and the 1st Armored Division welcomed its new leader.

Maj. Gen. Patrick E. Matlock took over from out-going Fort Bliss commander Maj. Gen. Robert "Pat" White at a change of command ceremony.

Matlock, a two-star general, will lead one of the Army's largest posts with about 30,000 soldiers that's home to famed U.S. tank division nicknamed "Old Ironsides."

The ceremonial transfer of authority from one leader to another featured an Army marching band, gun salute and scores of soldiers marching in review on a field.

The assignment is a return to El Paso for Matlock, wife Jacqueline, and their three children. He was chief of staff for the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss from 2012-14.

"We are exceptionally excited to be back in El Paso," Matlock said after the ceremony, adding that he wants to continue what White and previous Fort Bliss commanders have done.

Among family present at the ceremony was Matlock's father-in-law, retired four-star Army Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the start of U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The ceremony kicked off with the visiting 338th Army Band playing "El Paso" and "The Yellow Rose of Texas" as flowers were given to the generals' wives as a welcome.

Armored vehicles and Apache attack helicopters sat on the field as soldiers paraded past a reviewing stand under a cloudy morning sky.

The military tradition of reviewing the troops date back to the times of Alexander the Great, the Crusades and the beginnings of the U.S. Army, an announcer said.

During the ceremony, Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, spoke of the 1st Armored Division's storied legacy.

"The 1st Armored Division's history has inspired a larger than life folklore," the three-star general said. "Images of tanks roaring across the desert, attacking enemy forces that crumbled under the momentum of the offensive. America's tank division saw its first combat on the battlefields of World War II in North Africa as its soldiers drove back the Germans."

During Operation Desert Storm, the tank division drove deep into Iraq and in more recent years has battled the Taliban and the Islamic State in the War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Most recently, the armored division "broke the back of ISIS in Mosul," White said, describing his pride leading the "Iron Soldiers"

Matlock has been in the U.S. Army for more than 30 years and is a 1988 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, also known as Army West Point.

Prior to his return to Fort Bliss, Matlock was director of training at the office of the deputy chief of staff at the Pentagon.

"First of all, to the people of El Paso and all of the communities here in Texas and New Mexico, thank you for the support you give our soldiers and our families," Matlock told reporters after the ceremony. "This is an absolutely wonderful community."

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