Maj. Gen. Leopoldo Quintas became the 86th commander of the 3rd Infantry Division during a ceremony Monday morning at Cottrell Field near Warriors Walk, where crepe myrtles grow to honor the 468 men and women from Fort Stewart who’ve died since 2001 in the nation’s ongoing war on terror.
Quintas assumed command from Maj. Gen. James Rainey, who is headed to the Pentagon.
Quintas said he was “honored and humbled” to assume command of the 3rd ID and Fort Stewart and called it a homecoming for his family, which includes his wife Lori, son, Lt. Samuel Quintas, who is deployed to Europe with the Fourth Infantry Division, and daughter, Emma Quintas.
Samuel Quintas was born on Fort Stewart in 1992 while the family was stationed here. Emma Quintas graduated from Bradwell Institute in 2013.
“To me, this is home,” Quintas said. “It’s great to be home.”
Rainey, who assumed command of the 3rd ID in August 2015, thanked the community, veterans and soldiers for their respective efforts during his time as the division’s top commander.
He praised commanders and noncommissioned officers, including division Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Walter “Tag” Tagalicud, whom Rainey called the best in the Army.
“Thanks for being awesome,” he said.
Rainey also saluted his wife, Tracy, and daughters Bailey and Jamie.
“I’m going to miss being called Marne 6 (the call sign for 3rd ID commanders),” Rainey said. “But ‘Daddy’ is still my favorite call sign.”
The change of command took place on a flawless spring day. It was rife with military ceremony and heavily attended by state, area and local officials. Also attending were family members, officers and enlisted men important to both Quintas and Rainey.
Among those in uniform were soldiers and officers wearing the maroon berets of the 82nd Airborne Division and one general wearing a green beret.
Rainey, without naming names, also gave a nod to veterans in the stands.
“There are some bona fide military heroes here in civilian clothes,” he said.
Both generals also referenced the sacrifices 3rd ID soldiers have made in wars dating back to WWI.
More than 50,000 “Dogface” soldiers have died in combat since the division was formed in 1918, and the 3rd ID has 51 winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor, more than any other division.
Quintas referenced that past as he spoke, saying as the unit begins celebrating its 100th anniversary “we are standing on the shoulders of all who have gone before us,” he said.
Rainey also praised the soldiers on the parade field as he concluded his remarks, speaking to 3rd ID soldiers as their commander for the last time.
“It’s been an honor to serve with you and to be called a Dogface soldier,” he said.
Quintas told those same soldiers he pledged to continue to work to “make each of us more ready when called upon by our nation.”
Both generals repeatedly praised the relationship between Fort Stewart, the 3rd ID and surrounding communities, and Quintas said he will work to “sustain and build” those relationships, calling “Fort Stewart the hallmark of Army posts.”
The official change of command ceremony ended shortly after both generals, along with their families and former 3rd ID commander Gen. Robert Abrams, now head of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., stood on the parade ground to watch as the 3rd ID band played and 3rd ID soldiers marched past them as part of a pass and review.
As part of the ceremony, Tracy Rainey received red roses as the outgoing commander’s wife. Lori Quintas received yellow roses. In military ceremonies red roses are a farewell, yellow are a welcome.