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U.S. Army Garrison-Pohakuloa Public Affairs
USAG-POHAKULOA, Hawaii — Lt. Col. Eric Shwedo took command of U.S. Army Garrison-Pohakuloa during a brief ceremony, here, July 10.
Shwedo succeeds Lt. Col. Rolland Niles, who commanded the garrison for two years.
Niles leaves Hawaii for Fort Hood, Texas, where he will work as the Fire Support Coordinator for III Corps.
The ceremony also featured the assumption of responsibility for the garrison by Command. Sgt. Maj. Alan Higgs.
Kahu (minister) Daniel Kaniela Akaka opened the ceremony with a chant and blessing in Hawaiian and praised Niles for his support of Native Hawaiian culture and programs. Following Akaka’s blessing, Poochy Paulino, a friend of the command, performed a farewell hula and oli (chant) to honor the change of command.
It was then time for the passing of the garrison colors, signifying the change of command from Niles to Shwedo. During the exchange, Higgs also assumed responsibility for the garrison.
Following the passing of colors, Col. Douglas Mulbury, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, praised Niles for his dedication to mission accomplishment and success, especially in seeing through to completion ranges that provide Army and Marine units with realistic training facilities — the Stryker Battle Area Complex Range, Cooper Army Airstrip for unmanned aerial vehicles and several urban complexes.
“(Niles) has been the face of the Army here on Hawaii Island, engaging with the community, communicating the Army story and listening to their concerns in an effort to be a good neighbor as we coexist in this special place,” Mulbury said.
Niles followed, saying it had been an honor and privilege to serve as USAG-P commander and support the training of more than 20,000 Soldiers, Marines and other service members.
“We have completed millions of dollars in projects that have improved training support, to include an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle airstrip and a Military Operations in Urban Terrain site while nearly completing a Stryker range and a convoy live-fire range,” Niles said. “We did all this during a very dynamic time.”
Niles said the garrison’s support has been critical to the pre-deployment training of 25th Infantry Division units as well as several battalions in the 3rd and 12th Marine Regiments.
“Our work building partnerships with the local community has been tremendous as well,” Niles said. “Between feeding the homeless, work in the veterans cemeteries, support to Habitat for Humanity and countless other service projects, PTA employees and training units have been active in our community, and I know you will continue these efforts.”
Niles concluded with thanks to the USAG-HI leadership and staff.
“It has been challenging at times being on a separate island, but you continued to come through.”
He also thanked the Pohakuloa staff for its support to him and to the military men and women who trained here.
Niles saved his final thanks for his family for their support during his command and during the many moves, interesting hours and other obligations during his Army career.
“You have borne all and were supporting throughout,” he said.
Niles offered a bit of advice to new commander Shwedo: “Always remember why we are here: the serviceman. What we do enables them to be prepared for their next mission and return home safely.”
Shwedo was brief and said he looks forward to the opportunities and challenges of commanding Pohakuloa. He also praised new garrison command sergeant major Higgs, saying Pohakuloa is lucky to have him.
“It is evident that (Niles) was instrumental in the success of PTA and has set it on a clear path for the future,” Shwedo said. “You have built many bridges across the Big Island and have made PTA the Pacific’s premier training area.”