The 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Sustainment Brigade got a new commander Friday morning during a ceremony on Fort Stewart’s Cottrell Field.
Col. Ron Novack handed over command of the Providers Brigade after 26 months in command, which included a nine-month combat tour in Afghanistan. The unit returned from that deployment in September.
Prior to the official change-of-command ceremony, Novack was awarded his second Legion of Merit by Maj. Gen. Mike Murray, commander of the 3rd ID and Stewart-Hunter. Novack also has a Bronze Star with three oak leaf clusters and several other medals and appurtenances.
Novack’s wife, Jackie, also received an award. Murray placed an Outstanding Service Medal around her neck for her tireless efforts in supporting the unit’s spouses, then he shook the hands of the Novacks’ daughters, Taylor and Emma.
"I’ve been very, very blessed to have been able to command four times," Novack said. "It has been a pleasure to command the 3rd Sustainment Brigade. I can’t think of a finer organization."
Novack told the soldiers surrounding him the three things most important to him are his faith, his family and his health. His next duty assignment is as deputy commander for Capabilities, Development and Integration, Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Va.
Col. Tony Coston, Novack’s replacement, is a third-generation Army officer from Hot Springs, Ark. He comes to Stewart from the Army War College at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C. Coston and his wife, Stephanie, have two children, Cole and Caitlin. Both are students at Bradwell Institute. He noted this is their 15th move in 23 years of marriage.
He told Novack before he moves his family to Virginia, he should make sure his daughters have a cat to take with them. If they do not have one, he jokingly offered to give the Novacks his cat.
Following Novack’s command inspection and the national anthem, the official change-of-command ceremony began with Command Sgt. Maj. Forest Daniels passing the 3rd Sustainment Brigades colors to Navack, who then passed the colors to Murray. This action symbolized Navack’s surrendering command of the unit. Murray then passed the colors to Coston, symbolizing his acceptance of the command. Coston passed the colors back to Daniels, the colors’ custodian and senior enlisted member of the brigade.
"Today’s ceremony marks an important transition point," Murray said. "Transitions are in fact the life of the Army ... It’s what makes this Army the best fighting force in the world today."
He commended Novack as a leader who talked with his soldiers, not simply to them. He said Novack is the type of leader who really wants his soldiers to excel, which was something he said Novack and his unit proved during the operations in Regional Command South in Afghanistan.
Novack’s comments began with a quote by NBA player Larry Byrd, who said he never put on his uniform to play but to win. Novack compared that principle with his unit’s performance and reputation.
He noted that his drivers logged more than 1.1 million miles without a fatality. The Providers kept the division and its allies fed and provided them with fuel and ammunition. He said they provided the sustainment with support that was needed anytime, anywhere — not just to play but to win.
Following his comments, Coston led his new staff around the formation of soldiers representing every unit in the 3rd Sustainment Brigade for an official Pass in Review. The 3rd ID band provided music for the ceremony.