Yongsan bids farewell to special ops commander
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The past two years were a series of “firsts” for Brig. Gen. Simeon G. Trombitas, head of Special Operations Command Korea.
When he took over in 2006, it was his first tour in South Korea and his first command as a general officer. One of the most significant events during his command was another first — running the SOCKOR portion of a war exercise from a nuclear submarine in the waters off the coast.
And his next job — as commander of the Iraqi National Counter-Terrorism Task Force Transition Team — will be his first Iraq assignment.
During a relinquishment-of-command ceremony Thursday, members of the community gathered to wish Trombitas; his wife, Kellie; and his 11-year-old son, Simeon, farewell. His older son, 20-year-old Paul, is studying at East Carolina University and wasn’t able to attend the ceremony.
Trombitas, wearing the distinctive green beret, thanked the members of his command, giving them what he called his “highest praise.”
“I want you with me in combat,” he told them. “Thank you, to all. It’s been a privilege being your commander.”
He told the crowd that about a week before the ceremony, he saw “the beauty of the Korean countryside suspended under a parachute at 1,000 feet.”
“As I stepped off the platform into space, I had great confidence that my parachute would open — the same confidence that I have in the great alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States.”
U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. B.B. Bell called Trombitas a “warrior in every sense of the word,” who commanded at all levels in the special operations community.
Bell said that during a recent exercise, Trombitas “advanced the battle-command capabilities” for the special operations community by commanding the tactical and operational missions from a submarine.
“Of course, the only way to leave a submarine at sea is to be hoisted by a horse-collar up to a helicopter from the deck, and that is exactly the way Sim did it. Some people consider that fun,” Bell said. “I guess that’s why God created Special Forces.”
Bell thanked Kellie Trombitas for her work with the community.
“You volunteered in our classrooms, chaperoned school trips and participated in book fairs,” Bell said.
As to Trombitas’ next assignment, Bell called him the “right leader at the right time to perform this mission.”
Air Force Col. Keith Lambert will serve as the acting commander until later this summer, when Brig. Gen. Al Aycock — who heads the Installation Management Command-Korea — will take the reins.