Four days into his job as garrison commander, Lt. Col. Greg Ank was given the task of planning a replacement for Root Hall on the U.S. Army War College campus of Carlisle Barracks.
The Ohio native was a leader in the effort to develop a future construction project for a modern academic facility currently programmed for fiscal year 2020.
The groundwork of his team was to be scrutinized by the top Army engineer and many others up the chain of command.
“There was no pressure there,” Ank joked Wednesday as he recalled the challenge from two years ago. But it was just one day of what became an eventful first week as chief of day-to-day operations on post.
Tradition marches on
Ank was a guest speaker at a change of command ceremony Wednesday that saw his authority transfer to the new garrison commander, Lt. Col. Sally Hannan.
In a tradition steeped in symbolism, the unit flag of Carlisle Barracks was handed over to Nelson Maldonado Jr., the outgoing command sergeant major, who passed it on to Ank.
Ank handed the flag to Vincent Grewatz, the civilian director in charge of training for IMCOM — Army Installation Management Command. From there, Grewatz continued the cycle by handing the flag to Hannan, an Army engineer from Tennessee.
At that moment, Hannan took charge of the garrison staff of the second oldest Army installation in the country with a history that predates the founding of the country.
Her first official duty was to end the formal ceremony by passing the flag to her senior adviser, Jamie M. Lethiecq, the new command sergeant major of Carlisle Barracks.
The whole thing was over in a matter of moments on the post golf course on the 242nd birthday of the U.S. Army. Ank took the podium for an emotional farewell.
The 44-year-old career man is set to retire and settle in the Pittsburgh area, where he will enroll his three children in school and figure out his next move.
Ank will be joined in retirement by Maldonado, a 45-year-old New York City native who already has a house waiting for him in Chambersburg along with plans to reconnect with relatives.
Eventful first week
“Garrison command is an adventure,” Ank said, recalling his two years as a military equivalent to a town manager. He compared the first week to a novice sailor trying to figure out the intricacies of the rigging of a sailboat.
Only his vessel was tossed by waves from Day One when all the electricity on post went out for four hours without any explanation.
On Day Two, Ank was visiting the chapel for a briefing when an “epic” microburst storm system came through with damaging winds and rains that brought down 20 old trees throughout Carlisle Barracks.
On Day Three, word came down from Army headquarters that an accreditation team was on the way to inspect all the post child care centers.
Day Four was the start of his involvement in a Root Hall replacement project. Day Five were problems with the post water tower. And the week ended with the knowledge that nearly half of the commissary staff was now eligible for retirement prompting a major restructuring of its personnel.
“The list of challenges went on and on,” Ank said. “That was our introduction to garrison command.” But despite all that, he credited his success to the teamwork of the garrison staff.
“None of this was possible without the experience, knowledge, creativity, ambition and passion that you bring to Carlisle Barracks every day,” Ank told those in the audience.
Maldonado thanked the garrison “heavy lifters.” He said the post police force in the past two years answered 2,200 calls, beefed up its training regimen and replaced its entire vehicle fleet.
In that same period, the fire department responded to over 600 calls both on post and in local municipalities where the Army has mutual aid agreements, Maldonado said. He added post security guards screen over 2,500 visitors per month and conduct random anti-terrorism drills that maintain a high degree of readiness.
Aside from the project to replace the aging academic facility at Root Hall, Maldonado was involved in the planning of a new fire station that is still working its way through the review process. The public works department on post was involved in over 5,500 projects during the past two years ranging from emergencies to routine requests for maintenance.
“Team Carlisle even had the opportunity to benefit from our Eagle Scout candidates,” Maldonado said, referring to the boys who were instrumental in developing a dog park on post.
Hannan, the new commander, arrived on post in late May to prepare for the transition. A 1998 West Point graduate, she has held numerous command positions in the Army Corps of Engineers including a recent stint as deputy commanding officer of the 1st Engineer Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
“In just two short weeks, it is obvious that I have been given a team of committed professionals providing premier facilities and services to our Army family with customer service at the forefront,” Hannan said. “I am extremely excited about this opportunity to serve the Carlisle community. It is truly a blessing to be trusted to care for this amazing installation.”
She is married to Lt. Col. William Hannan and is the mother of three children, Caroline, William and Elliott.
Command Sgt. Maj. Jamie Lethiecq arrived at Carlisle Barracks last August and has been involved since then in learning garrison operations and how Carlisle Barracks interacts with the surrounding community. Lethiecj is married to Michelle Shade who hails from Port Matilda near State College.
Lethiecq joined the Army in 1998 and has training as a Korean voice interceptor with military intelligence. He has been deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His civilian education includes a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s degree in public administration and management and five associate’s degrees.
“I am honored to have this great opportunity,” Lethiecq told the crowd.