The 64th Troop Command bid farewell to outgoing commander Col. Julie Gerety and honored her service during a change-of-command ceremony while welcoming new commander, Col. Dennis Konkel, at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Madison, Wisconsin, Sunday.
Konkel previously served as the deputy commander of the 64th Troop Command, which is one of the four major subordinate commands in the Wisconsin Army National Guard including the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, and the 426th Regional Training Institute.
Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, assistant adjutant general for the Wisconsin Army National Guard, Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Shields, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s senior enlisted advisor, and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Kaluzny of the 64th Troop Command, were among the distinguished guests, along with family, present during the ceremony.
Dunbar addressed those in attendance, praising the leadership capabilities of both Gerety and Konkel.
“When we do a change of command ceremony for one of those major commands, like the 64th Troop Command, it’s a big deal for our state,” Dunbar said. “Col. Gerety has done an exceptional job throughout her career, taking responsibility to mentor her Soldiers and be sure they were ready, and to put everything that she had into making sure that this unit is ready for what may come. I just want to say to you that you have fulfilled every expectation that I had and I am so very proud what you have done to lead this unit and thank you for your leadership.”
Gerety reflected on her time as commander of the 64th.
“As the commander I think my biggest take away is just how incredible the Soldiers of the 64th Troop Command have performed during my two years here,” Gerety said. “When I reflect back at it, I can recite so many times how they have achieved so much and that’s the pride and inspiration that’s been given to me to be a better brigade commander.”
Gerety’s long and diverse career included time as an intelligence officer for the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, as commander of a headquarters and headquarters company, as the deputy inspector general for the Wisconsin National Guard, as well as a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
During her two years as commander, Gerety led the 64th through deployments, multiple overseas deployment training opportunities, a battalion-sized national training center rotation, and external evaluations while simultaneously working fulltime as the director of domestic operations for the Wisconsin National Guard.
Gerety has served in the military for 32 years, and will return to the Wisconsin National Guard’s Joint Staff before retiring with 33 years of service. Facing her retirement, Gerety spoke about what she will miss most from the 64th, as well as from the Wisconsin Army National Guard.
“I was coming into the building and I was just reflecting on this as my next-to-last drill weekend,” Gerety began. “I just get so much energy from Soldiers, and I don’t know how to explain it, but I was walking in the door and saw a Troop. I just want to hurry up to go talk to that Troop to see who they are and what they do and just embrace the energy that comes with that. They’re so excited about the day and what’s ahead ... That energy is just incredible to me.”
With Konkel assuming command of the 64th, Gerety reflected on the legacy of the brigade.
“It’s really important to me, the legacy of what I leave behind and to watch Col. Konkel grow as well,” Gerety said. “We’re all growing. I certainly have grown tremendously not only as an officer and a leader, but as a person. I think the Troop Command’s professionalism is really important. Over the past two years my vision has been pretty simple. It’s that Troop Command will not only be known by our patch on our shoulder, but by our professionalism. And I really think it’s important for all those leaders to grasp and understand how that empowers our Soldiers to be better at what they do.”
Konkel, who is a captain with the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office and assigned to the Sheriff’s Training Academy, has served in the Wisconsin Army National Guard for 28 years. Throughout his career, Konkel has held positions as a military police platoon leader, a battalion staff officer, a headquarters and headquarters company commander, and as commander of a medical company. He is also as a veteran of two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Prior to being selected as the deputy commander of the 64th Troop Command, Konkel was serving as the deputy battalion supply officer with the Wisconsin National Guard’s Joint Staff.
Dunbar pointed to Konkel’s experience in both the military and in law enforcement and said that he believes Konkel was the best candidate for the job.
“If we were looking for the next commander for the 64th Troop Command, and we went to a database somewhere, we couldn’t find somebody better,” Dunbar said.
Konkel talked about what he learned from Gerety as her deputy during the ceremony.
“I was in a great position to be her deputy to see first-hand Col. Gerety in action,” Konkel said, “and to carry on that tradition of our profession of arms, the development of our Soldiers, and the All-Star program. I look forward to getting to wrap my arms around everything that’s going on with the unit a little more.”
Dunbar’s closing remarks during the ceremony praised both of the Soldiers being honored and spoke of a bright future for the 64th.
“I will tell you as the adjutant general,” Dunbar said. “It is an embarrassment of riches that we have here in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, because these exceptional Soldiers keep getting better and rising and become ready to take on anything, however, this level of command is by no means a foregone conclusion. Out of over 7000 soldiers, four at any given time, are going to be in command of major units in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. Col. Konkel, I’ve got nothing but confidence in your ability. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do with this great unit, building upon Col. Gerety’s leadership and working to make this exceptional unit even better. Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy what you’re about to see. You are in the presence of two exceptional leaders and I couldn’t be more proud.”
As Gerety moves into retirement, she can reflect on a distinguished career of accomplishments in the military and devote more time to her family and her husband, she said.
“Col. Konkel, congratulations on your command your promotion,” she said. “It is well-deserved. I am excited for you to take command could not be happier that it is being turned over to you. You have the commitment and character to take this brigade to higher levels.”
Konkel, who was also officially promoted to the rank of colonel upon taking command, looked forward to leading the state’s most diverse brigade.
“I’m just very humbled to be able to follow in Col. Gerety’s footsteps,” he said. “Big shoes to fill. She’s a very inspiring leader, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m very excited. It’s an awesome organization.”