Ft. Lee says Goodbye to Bingham, hello to O'Neil
By Sarah Steele Wilson
Sep 5, 2012, 11:28
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham, Maj. Gen. Larry D. Wyche, Col. John O’Neil salute the flag at the change of command ceremony.
While history will forever recognize Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham as the Army’s first female Quartermaster General, residents of the localities around Fort Lee recognize her as a familiar face, a friend and a member of the community.
On Thursday, Fort Lee said goodbye to the history-making woman at a change of command ceremony that also welcomed Col. John “Skip” O’Neil, who took the regimental colors and reins from Bingham.
“Team, we are losing an absolutely outstanding and exceptional commander today,” Maj. Gen. Larry D. Wyche said.
He said that over the last 10 years of continuous combat, during which soldiers have been deployed to some of the toughest environments the Army has ever faced, 2.5 million quartermaster soldiers have had their boots on the ground.
“This fact is a reflection of the phenomenal work at the Quartermaster School,” he said. “And leading that attack and that charge here for the last 21 months, and providing some of those well trained soldiers, supporting victory, has been Gen. Gwen Bingham.”
During her time as Quartermaster General, Bingham trained over 30,000 logistics soldiers annually, Wyche said, fostering a spirit of team work and leaving behind a legacy of trust and good will.
“When the challenges demanded nothing less than experience, commitment and a relentless leader, Gwen, you were there. You were there.”
When Bingham took control of the Quartermaster School in November 2010, she was already a well known local figure. She served as Fort Lee’s first female garrison commander from 2005 to 2008, a time during which the installation expanded tremendously under the Base Realignment and Closure process.
After a deployment in Kuwait, she returned to the area to assume her new role.
“I must say the days, weeks and months have passed far too quickly,” Bingham said of her time back at Fort Lee.
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Dr. Patrick Bingham shares a hug with his wife Gwen Bingham during the change of command ceremony.
The ceremony was also a goodbye to her husband, Dr. Patrick Bingham, who was also a fixture of the local community as a member of the Prince George County School Board, from which he resigned earlier this month to follow his wife to her new post as commanding general at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
During her remarks, Bingham praised the soldiers she has worked with, those who have mentored her and members of the community who made her time at Fort Lee unforgettable.
“Having passed the colors to a great American, I depart this parade field a better soldier and a better person, having been touched by each of you here, and those not here,” she said.
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham prepares to pass the colors to Col. John O’Neil, opposite her.
O’Neil, who received the colors from Bingham, promised to maintain the Quartemaster Corp’s commitment to excellence.
“Since the earliest days of our Army, the Quartermasters have played a vital role in supporting victory,” he said. “We will continue to do so.”