JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON –
A large crowd braved the early morning Texas heat Aug. 2 to bid farewell to Col. John P. Lamoureux and welcome Col. Steven A. Toft as the new 502nd Mission Support Group commander.
The change of command ceremony combined both Air Force and Army traditions with the playing of "Ruffles and Flourishes," the firing of cannons and the passing of the unit colors.
"That is the great thing about being a joint base," said presiding officer Brig. Gen. Bob LaBrutta, commander of the Joint Base San Antonio and 502nd Air Base Wing.
"Understanding the culture and tradition of each of our service components and embracing it and making the most of it, so we can take care of the mission of our nation. That's what it's all about."
The general praised Lamoureux and his family for being a wonderful command team and for their many contributions to the joint base community.
"We selected the right guy at the right time for Fort Sam Houston," LaBrutta said of Lamoureux. "You are leaving Fort Sam Houston with a great reputation."
LaBrutta thanked Lamoureux for his dedication to the mission and his help with the continuing transformation of the 502nd Mission Support Group to the 502nd Force Support Group.
The general also welcomed Toft and his wife, Col. Carla Toft, to the team and the family.
"In today's environment where we have resource constraints that I have never seen before, we are going to have to think innovatively," LaBrutta said.
"We are going to have to be creative in the way we provide installation support to not only Fort Sam, but Randolph, Lackland and Camp Bullis in the future."
LaBrutta addressed the new commander, saying, "Steve, if there is anybody who could have come into Joint Base San Antonio here at Fort Sam Houston to take the mighty 502nd Force Support Group to the next level ... it's you.
"Our responsibility to the mission partners - to our mission leaders - is to make sure we provide the best installation support there is. We are going to be the Department of Defense's premier joint base."
Following the general's remarks, Lamoureux said his farewells to the 502nd Mission Support Group team.
"As I leave here today, no words can adequately express what an honor and privilege it's been to lead and serve this command," he said.
"Over the past two years, I have watched in awe as members of this great organization made excellence routine, the difficult easy and the complex, simple. They are truly the unsung heroes and undoubtedly, among the finest workforce I have had the privilege to work with."
Lamoureux said he couldn't think of a better replacement to take the organization into the future.
"Steve, you have the controls. I guarantee it can be a wild ride," Lamoureux said. "This train moves fast, but the professionals who make up this great organization will make sure you are prepared to accept and solve any of the difficult challenges that await you."
Lamoureux will take command of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon, Ga., but promised to return to San Antonio and eventually retire here. That brought a cheer from his wife, Laura.
Toft thanked everyone for attending the ceremony, saying it's been quite a few years since he has been to San Antonio, but despite all the changes to JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, "this truly does feel like coming home.
"At Joint Base San Antonio, we train the best Airmen in the world and we train the world's best medics. In fact, our battlefield wounded warfighters have the best chance of survival in the history of warfare," Toft said. "This is because of the cutting-edge work done at this base. These are just a couple of the myriad critical missions here at Joint Base San Antonio."
"I look forward to providing support to all the outstanding units and organizations at Joint Base San Antonio, as well as this outstanding military community," he said.
"I'm humbled and privileged to join the San Antonio community and I'm proud to serve alongside all of you," Toft added. "Thank you for the opportunity."