KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Last month, the 21st Theater Support Command was honored for providing backbone to Operation Enduring Freedom.

On Tuesday, one of its own was promoted to the top post of the 7,000-member logistics unit.

Maj. Gen. Bennie E. Williams took over as commander of the 21st TSC during a ceremony on a huge sports field at Daenner Casern. He replaced Maj. Gen. William E. Mortensen, who is becoming director for logistics, U.S. Central Command, at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

In August 2000, Williams became the 21st TSC’s deputy commander. In July 2001, Mortensen took command of the unit, and Williams had served as his deputy ever since.

The troops Williams is inheriting have proved their mettle.

In May, the unit was given the Army Superior Unit Award for its role in moving supplies and people during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The award is the highest a unit can be given during peacetime.

“I’ve always been proud of your accomplishments and efforts,” Williams told the assembled troops. “I know you’re the best; I’ve personally seen you in action.”

Mortensen told the troops that they succeeded because of their determination and adaptability.

“Someone once told me that if you are dedicated to your duty and if you lead with character you will be able to embrace change without fear,” Mortensen said during his speech.

“These soldiers do it every day — training soldiers and developing leaders for USAREUR.”

The generals, as they spoke, faced troops who stood in the hot sun, while VIPs and guests sat behind them under the shade of tents.

Three 105 mm howitzers from World War II and the Korean War fired 13 dummy rounds in honor of the new commander.

A big picnic was held afterward at Panzer Casern, but not all of the 7,000 members of the 21st TSC could make the party.

Many are still in Iraq moving supplies and people in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Others are working at peacekeeping operations in Kosovo and Romania, said 21st TSC spokeswoman Master Sgt. Sue Harper.

Day-to-day, the unit provides support to European Command Services with missions such as mail delivery.

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