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NEWS | Nov. 15, 2021

MEDCoE hosts 32nd Medical Brigade Change of Command

By Tish Williamson U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence Public Affairs

The 32nd Medical Brigade change of command ceremony was hosted by Maj. Gen. Dennis LeMaster, commander, U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, or MEDCoE, at the MacArthur Parade Field at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Nov. 11. 

For MEDCoE, which celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2020 with little fanfare due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the change of command was the first opportunity to gather such a large group in the representation of the command. With improving local COVID-19 conditions, masks were not required for vaccinated personnel during the outdoor ceremony.

The change of command ceremony featured Col. Wesley Anderson, the outgoing 32nd Medical Brigade commander, relinquishing command to incoming commander Col. Marc Welde. The ceremony was preceded by a historic photo with more than 4,000 MEDCoE Soldiers and civilians in formation on the field.

In addition to a panoramic group photo taken by MEDCoE Public Affairs, drone pilots assigned to the Air Force Civil Engineer Center out of JBSA-Lackland captured a bird’s-eye view of the historic formation. MEDCoE’s Medical Video Television, or MEDVID TV, also filmed the event that consisted of the 323rd Army Band “Fort Sam’s Own” accompaniment, an invocation delivered by Chaplain (Maj.) Oyedeji Idowu, “Honors to the Nation” sung by Col. Princess Atunrase, the passing of the unit colors between commanders, a pass in review, and the Army Song. 

Comprised of more than 1,000 military cadre, 800 civilian staff and faculty, as well as more than 5,000 students, MEDCoE is the largest civilian-accredited service school within the Department of Defense. MEDCoE trains more than 34,000 soldiers in more than 360 training and education programs annually.

LeMaster said the 32nd Medical Brigade, MEDCoE’s sole training brigade which is made up of five battalions and 23 companies, is the largest training brigade in the Army. He recalled a long list of accomplishments that he attributed directly to the professionalism and dedication shown at all levels within the brigade.

While dealing with the added pressure of the pandemic since March 2020, the 32nd Medical Brigade’s leaders, drill sergeants, instructors, and trainers shouldered the majority of the responsibility to ensure the Army’s pipeline of trained and ready medical professionals remained securely open. 

“This is where it all begins; it starts with the brigade commander,” LeMaster told the audience of more than 200 senior leaders and MEDCoE personnel. “Over a 24-month period, Col. Wes Anderson’s leadership resulted in more than 45,000 Soldiers and civilians entering into the operational force while facilitating critical transitions during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“From many milestone events, from implementing the Army’s “People First” strategy to conducting controlled movements for nearly 20,000 Soldiers into and out of the training pipeline safely as part of the command’s COVID-19 mitigation strategy, Anderson’s tenure will be remembered due to its marked success,” LeMaster said. “Wes and the 32nd team have excelled and succeeded in so many ways.”

The general thanked Anderson for the leadership, mentorship, dedication and compassion he demonstrated throughout his entire command.

“The foundation of success you built within the brigade, with its strong teams, innovative processes, and a commitment to people first, as well as your passion for excellence, education and mentorship, will be your lasting legacy,” LeMaster added.

The general also lauded Welde, a recent graduate of the Senior Service College at the U.S. Naval War College, as the right choice to build on the foundation set by Anderson, as the command looks toward the future.

“Marc is a gifted and seasoned leader who has commanded the United Army Medical Materiel Center-Korea, he’s a combat veteran, and he understands the mission which he assumed a few moments ago,” LeMaster said.

Speaking directly to Welde, LeMaster characterized the members of a command as a family during his closing remarks.

“Marc, Wes has done an outstanding job leading this organization to new heights, and now you have the tremendous privilege and responsibility to care for the newest members of your family,” LeMaster said.  “I know you are up to the task.”