FORT DRUM It was a return home for Col. Frederick Mark ODonnell, as he was introduced as the new commander of the 10th Mountain Divisions 1st Brigade Combat Team.
The colonel previously led the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment of the divisions 3rd Brigade Combat Team from 2007 until 2010, a period that included a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.
This patch, the 10th Mountain patch, means a lot to me, the new commander said after a ceremony Friday morning, referring to the unit insignia. You talk a bit about the tradition and history before, and the fact we have this opportunity to return to it and be a part of it again is really special to all of us.
His most recent assignment in his 23-year career was at the Army War College, Carlisle, Pa. The West Point graduate has also served as deputy commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga.
Col. ODonnell said he and his staff will work to prepare the brigade to deploy for future missions, in Afghanistan or elsewhere.
That may be the biggest challenge, preparing for the unknown, he said.
Col. ODonnell replaces Col. Stephen Michael, who has led the brigade since July 2011, including a recently completed deployment in Ghazni province, Afghanistan.
The outgoing commander paused at multiple times during his remarks at the Magrath Sports Complex to collect himself as he thanked leadership across the brigade for their work.
Breaking from his remarks, he generated a booming response when he called brigade soldiers to attention one final time from the lectern.
What we do is really about lives, Col. Michael said after the ceremony. Regardless of what equipment or technology, all the great things we have, what really makes this brigade special is people.
He said he was comfortable leaving knowing the quality of the soldiers that were coming into leadership positions within the brigade.
A decision on Col. Michaels next assignment has not been finalized, though it may be at the Pentagon.
Col. ODonnell, who lists his home at Spring Lake, Fla., comes to post with his wife, Lauren, and two children, Nicholas, 13, and Abigael, 10. Col. Michael and his wife, Sandra, have four children.