Following a weekend of heavy weapons training, Company D, 1st of the 138th Infantry Regiment, welcomed a new commander at the Missouri National Guard armory in Anderson. Capt. Gary Fleck took command of the detachment from outgoing commander Capt. Thomas Williams.
“I've had many honors and blessings in my military career, the greatest of which is the honor to have served as the commander of Delta Company, 1st of the 138th Infantry Regiment,” said Williams. “It has truly been a growing experience to work with the great noncommissioned officers and the soldiers that are Delta Company.”
Williams left his 90-strong detachment with a bang, leading his Monett- and Anderson-based citizen-soldiers in a 32-hour operation of heavy weapons training at Camp Crowder in Neosho.
Using three different scenarios developed by Williams, planned by noncommissioned officers and executed by soldiers under Williams’ charge, the infantry unit launched mounted and dismounted attacks and went on the offensive as part of military operations on urban terrain as others in the group played the role of oppositional forces.
“Within 10 minutes, the objective was secure,” said Williams of the unit that executed missions with .50 caliber weaponry and a tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided missile in sub-freezing temperatures and snow. “They did an excellent job,” added Williams.
Fleck, of Springfield, missed the action at Crowder, but he’s no stranger to the infantry, having served in light infantry units as an enlisted soldier and officer throughout his military career.
“I'm really looking forward to running a heavy weapons company and being hands-on with what they bring to the fight. I enjoy training at the company level and really like being in the field. Delta Company is big on training, so I expect it'll be a good fit,” Fleck said.
“I've had the opportunity to work with Capt. Fleck,” said Williams. “He was the commander of Alpha Company of the 1st of the 138th for longer than I have been in command, so I know that Delta Company is getting a much more experienced, knowledgeable and capable leader than I am. I expect Gary to take the company to a new level of excellence for what I believe is already the best company in the battalion.”
Fleck said he anticipates no major changes to the unit and gives props to the commander who passed on the unit guidon during the formal assumption of command ceremony in Anderson.
“I understand that Delta Company has always kept soldier readiness and training a high priority and I will continue to do the same,” said Fleck, who works as a military science instructor at Missouri State University in Springfield.
“Capt. Williams is a very competent captain and commander who has helped the company grow through some very difficult times. He is a large part of why the company is as successful as it is, both in individual soldier readiness and as a tactically-sound, fully-functioning, deployable asset to the Missouri Army National Guard,” Fleck added.
Williams, of Joplin, has taken the position of training officer for the 203rd Engineer Company. While up for the change in unit and position, he won’t soon forget his command of the infantry detachment.
“I’m glad this got to be my last drill,” said Williams as he watched his citizen-soldiers run two miles through dense woods in full battle gear before engaging oppositional forces at Crowder. “To take them out to a field training exercise, to move at night; this is what the infantry is about. It doesn’t get any better than this.”