529th CSSB command stays in the family

Lt. Col. Juanita Rohler takes command of the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group from her husband, Lt. Col. Dennis Rohler, during a change of command ceremony held Dec. 7, 2019, at Virginia National Guard Sgt. Bob Slaughter Headquarters at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. Col. Doyle Gillis, 329th RSG commander, presided over the exchange of unit colors that represented the transfer of command. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti)

RICHMOND, Va. — It was a unique and historic day for both the Rohler family and the Virginia National Guard’s 529th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group. On Dec. 7, 2019, Lt. Col. Juanita Rohler took command of the Virginia Beach-based unit from her husband, Lt. Col. Dennis Rohler, during a traditional change of command ceremony held at Virginia National Guard Sgt. Bob Slaughter Headquarters at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. 

“It’s just us doing what we do,” said Lt. Col. Juanita Rohler on the notable command exchange. Both Rohlers have called the 529th CSSB home over the years. Both deployed with the unit in staff positions and, most recently, while she served at the Pentagon, he commanded the unit during their deployment to the Middle East last year in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. 

“What’s unique about this unit, is that it has such a crazy unique legacy in that almost every commander was organic to this unit at its inception,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Coleman, 529th CSSB command sergeant major. “He had the opportunity to lead the unit as a commander and now she’s going to be able to do the same thing.”

At the start of the ceremony, Lt. Col. Dennis Rohler joined Coleman in uncasing the unit colors, which were cased when they departed Taji, Iraq, at the completion of their deployment late last year. 

On the deployment, Rohler said, “We took chaos and it became synchronized and responsive and anticipatory sustainment support.” His Soldiers were geographically dispersed around the Middle East and the 529th CSSB was responsible for hundreds of Soldiers from a variety of units. “We left OIR with distinct pride in what we accomplished as a task force. I am extremely proud of you and what we accomplished.” 

Lt. Col. Juanita Rohler takes command of the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group from her husband, Lt. Col. Dennis Rohler, during a change of command ceremony held Dec. 7, 2019, at Virginia National Guard Sgt. Bob Slaughter Headquarters at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti)

The uncasing of the colors represented the unit’s return home and was followed by the guidon exchange, which signified the transfer of authority from one commander to the next. During the ceremony, the Rohlers stood facing one another as Coleman, the keeper of the colors, brought the guidon forward and passed it to Lt. Col. Dennis Rohler. In a move representing his relinquishment of command, Rohler then passed the colors to Col. Doyle Gillis, 329th Regional Support Group commander, who then passed the colors to Lt. Col. Juanita Rohler to signify her assumption of command. Finally, she passed the colors back to Coleman for safe-keeping. 

“There’s emotion with leaving the unit because I’ve been in the unit three separate times, deployed with the unit three separate times and this is the last time that I’m ever actually going to be in the 529th CSSB,” said Lt. Col. Dennis Rohler. “Then there’s the pride I have for my wife and her accomplishment in the fact that she’s taking command. How often do you get to thank your wife for supporting you by supporting her in the exact same way?” 

Following the guidon exchange, Gillis took to the podium and said, “This is probably one of the most unique change of commands in the history of the Army.” He praised all that the 529th CSSB accomplished during Lt. Col. Dennis Rohler’s command, especially while they were deployed. “He and his team have contributed enormously to the success of the 329th Regional Support Group, the Virginia Army National Guard and the U.S. Army. […] Lt. Col. Rohler did an excellent job ensuring every Soldier under his command was superbly trained, mentally and physically fit and prepared to meet the demands of the deployment.” 

During their deployment, the 529th CSSB was responsible for more than 700 Soldiers who were distributed across 14 different forward logistics elements that were considered Theater Sustainment Command level assets. They provided world-class sustainment support and oversaw 32 contracting officer representatives who oversaw the distribution and storage of more than 36 million gallons of fuel for air and ground mobility assets throughout the AO, and the battalion executed FARP retail and bulk fuel operations in Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, to support maneuver and mobility assets distributing a total of over 21 million gallons of fuel. Their largest and most complex mission was the Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund-Iraq logistics function. The battalion was responsible for divesting equipment to Iraq’s security forces they needed in their efforts to defeat ISIS. The battalion coordinated with all the training nodes in Iraq in concert with approximately 26 other coalition nations and the leadership of the Iraqi Army on a daily basis.

“We were given a very complex mission set, to say the least,” Rohler said during his remarks. He thanked the Soldiers of the 529th for their hard work and recognized the former and current members of the unit before welcoming his wife back to the 529th CSSB. “Juanita, you’re an outstanding logistician, you are a developer of professionals, you’re a strategic thinker, but most importantly, you’re an invaluable support to me and the family and I love you.” 

When Lt. Col. Juanita Rohler took to the podium to deliver her remarks, she thanked her family and Virginia Army National Guard leadership for the opportunity to lead the 529th CSSB. 

“There have been so many really good commanders of this battalion, ahead of me, who have done such a phenomenal job and I don’t want to let anybody down, especially the Soldiers,” she said. She added that she’s thankful to be taking command from her husband who she called a professional and one of the top sustainment experts in the state. “Thank you, Dennis, for handing me the legacy of excellence.” 

Lt. Col. Juanita Rohler takes command of the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group from her husband, Lt. Col. Dennis Rohler, during a change of command ceremony held Dec. 7, 2019, at Virginia National Guard Sgt. Bob Slaughter Headquarters at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. Col. Doyle Gillis, 329th RSG commander, presided over the exchange of unit colors that represented the transfer of command. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti)

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