New commander takes charge of Fort Pickett

Lt. Col. William L. Korsen receives the organizational colors for the Virginia Army National Guard Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett from Brig. Gen. William R. Phillips, II, the Virginia National Guard land component commander, signifying his assumption of command from Col. Thomas P. Wilkinson April 14 during a change of command ceremony held at the Post Stadium. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Lt. Col. William L. Korsen took command of the Virginia Army National Guard Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett from Col. Thomas P. Wilkinson April 14 during a change of command ceremony held at the Post Stadium. Brig. Gen. William R. Phillips, II, the Virginia National Guard land component commander, presided over the organizational colors exchange that began and ended with Fort Pickett Command Sgt. Maj. Michael “Doc” McGhee signifying the transfer of command from Wilkinson to Korsen.

Brig. Gen. William R. Phillips, II, the Virginia National Guard land component commander, presents Col. Thomas P. Wilkinson with the Meritorious Service Medal and the Virginia Legion of Merit during the Fort Pickett change of command ceremony April 14 at the Post Stadium. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

Phillips recounted the many accomplishments by the MTC staff during Wilkinson’s tenure as commander. Under his leadership, the installation underwent millions of dollars in facilities improvements including new buildings to improve Soldier care and state-of-the-art ranges to improve on Fort Pickett’s already impressive array of training venues. Phillips also commended Wilkinson and his wife Pat for their commitment to community involvement and morale, welfare and recreation events.

Phillips also credited the outstanding safety record and high training throughput during Wilkinson’s time as commander as contributing factors to Fort Pickett being selected as Regional Collective Training Capability. This designation will focus unit collective training at Fort Pickett to ensure that active component, Army National Guard and Army Reserve units achieve their readiness goals.

“It has been a great honor and privilege for me to be the 48th commander of Fort Pickett,” Wilkinson said. He thanked his leaders and team members for their support during his three and half years of command where the installation amassed more than three million man days of training, third in the nation behind mobilization centers Camp Shelby and Camp Atterbury. He also gave particular thanks to McGhee for his mentorship and friendship, and to his wife and three daughters for their unwavering support as he referred to them as the “real builders of my success.”

In addition to the training accomplishments, Wilkinson also recalled the effort made during his time in command to recall the history and traditions of Fort Pickett. He lead the efforts to rededicated Mullins Corner and the Peregory Training Complex, as well as dedicating the post chapel in memory of Chaplain Thomas Bulla and establishing the site for the proposed Virginia National Guard museum.

Wilkinson was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and the Virginia Legion of Merit as part of the ceremony.

After the organizational colors exchange, Wilkinson presented Korsen with the new Maneuver Training Center shoulder sleeve insignia. Soldiers from the MTC designed the insignia, and Soldiers serving in National Guard training centers across the country will soon wear it. The design features the three colors of the basic combat arms branches, as well as a minuteman statue and 13 stars in tribute to the Guard’s citizen-Soldier heritage.

Phillips told the Soldiers of the MTC that they would be in good hands as the command of the post changed hands. “As the staff passes from Col. Wilkinson to Lt. Col. Korsen, I am confident that the Maneuver Training Center’s proud heritage, superb record and dedicated service to our nation will continue unabated into the future,” he said.

Before the ceremony ended, Korsen presented the Commander’s Award for Public Service to Pat Wilkinson in recognition for outstanding contributions to Fort Pickett and local community.