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Farewell for deputy commanders
CSM also saluted on departure
farewell 0940
A guitarist of the 3rd Infantry Division Band salutes during a farewell ceremony as cannons are fired as a salute to Brig. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal, Brig. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue II and CSM Jesse Andrews Jr. - photo by Photo by Seraine Page
Amid the colorful foliage at Marne Garden, indicating a change in season, another bigger change occurred within the command of the largest Army installation east of the Mississippi River during a Monday evening farewell ceremony.
The event was to thank Brig. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal, Brig. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue II and CSM Jesse Andrews Jr. for their time at Fort Stewart.
Third Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo gave a brief introduction and said it was his first ceremony since his return from the Middle East almost two weeks ago. He thanked audience members and each service members’ wife for coming out.
“These three gentlemen were indispensable,” Cucolo told the audience of more than 100 guests, and attributed much of the Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom successes to their leadership.
After a brief biography, Cucolo pinned a distinguished medal on both Vandal and Donahue. Andrews received his fourth bronze star.
The 3rd Infantry Division Band chimed in with Vandal’s and Donahue’s request for a farewell song after each man received his pin.
Vandal chose AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and Donahue chose U2’s “Pride”.
Cucolo chose Andrews song for him since he wasn’t able to do so, announced Jeff Fornshell, ceremonies advisor.
The Temptations “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” elicited an uproar of laughter from the crowd as a band member belted out the refrain of the song and added his own touch with, “Please don’t leave me sergeant major…”
After the song, Cucolo chuckled and then became serious. “I will miss you all and I look forward to working with you again someday,” Cucolo said before introducing the men for comments.
Vandal, deputy commanding general (support), 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized)/U.S. Division-North, Operation Iraqi Freedom, spoke to the audience first and thanked Cucolo for the introduction.
“I appreciate the kind words and it has been a great privilege to work in the 3rd ID,” he said.
Vandal has been assigned to command the U.S. Army Field Artillery School at the Army’s Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Sill, Okla.
Vandal ended his speech by thanking friends.
“Since we don’t say goodbye in the Army, I’ll close with ‘see ya later’.”
Donahue said, “The soldiers are fantastic here and so are the military families.”
He added that although he is back and moving on to a different position, it is important to note that there are still troops overseas.
“I wish for the safe return of the thousands of soldiers who are still in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq,” he said.  
Donahue was division’s deputy commanding general (operations).
He leaves today to become director of concept development and learning at the Army Capabilities Integration Center, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command in Fort Monroe, Va.
The 3rd ID’s senior enlisted advisor for the past four years spoke last.
Andrews started his job last month at Fort Gillem as the senior enlisted advisor to Lt. Gen. Thomas Miller at First Army.
“This is tough,” said Andrews of leaving Fort Stewart. “There are no words; there are not enough thank yous that I could give for serving in the best Army.”
The division command sergeant major especially thanked his wife, Frankie, for her support and encouragement.
“It has been an honor to be in this division,” Andrews said in a closing statement.
After the ceremony, Andrews said he will truly miss Cucolo and the community support here.
“This is the best place here, Fort Stewart, Ga.”
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