FORT PICKETT, Va. — Col. Timothy D. Pillion took command of Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett from Col. Paul C. Gravely during a ceremony April 16, 2021, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. Brig. Gen. K. Weedon Gallagher, the Virginia National Guard Land Component Commander, presided over the traditional exchange of colors symbolizing the transfer of the garrison command from Gravely to Pillion.
“Tim epitomizes that humble servant culture in the teams that he fosters and the teams that he leads. Sometimes we forget that humble service, that selfless service is so important to leaders. It’s inspiring to us and to his peers. It’s an inspiring attribute, and I know it’s one he’ll carry here to MTC,” said Gallagher. “We have every confidence and faith in your ability to continue the huge steps Paul made at MTC.”
Gravely will now serve as the Virginia Army National Guard G3 state operations officer. Pillion, who most recently served in the same G3 role Gravely is moving into, has also served as the garrison commander at the State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach, Virginia. That experience which should serve him well in his new role.
“We’re counting on Tim to leverage that personal experience he has from SMR,” said Gallagher.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with many of the MTC staff while I was at SMR, and I know that Paul’s handing over an excellent team,” said Pillion. “I promise to take good care of it, and to continue to grow and build on the things you’ve accomplished over the past several years. I look forward to this opportunity and cannot think of a better way to continue my career.”
During the ceremony, both Gallagher and Gravely reflected on the growth of MTC over the past several years.
“Paul made it a hometown. He built and maintained connective tissue with the community around MTC, with the civilians and service members who work at MTC,” said Gallagher, who then mentioned MTC’s role in processing VNG troops as they responded to support law enforcement in Washington, D.C., in January 2021. “That kind of investment, when we find ourselves stressed like we did in January and February when MTC became a mobilization platform, it was to our benefit, because we were able to lean on that tissue and all of those relationships that Paul invested in and put personal time into.”
Gravely began his MTC service 20 years ago as a range officer, and has been instrumental in the growth of the installation.
“I’m humbled to have been afforded the opportunity to command the Maneuver Training Center,” said Gravely. “It’s been my focus for nearly 20 years. I’ve seen this organization grow from beyond a simple, sleepy training site to one of the best locations to train on the East Coast.”
Gravely credited his successes at MTC in part to those who make the installation tick.
“The Soldiers, state and federal employees, contractors and personnel that support this installation are absolutely second to none. They have time and time again shown what they are all about,” said Gravely. “That’s, at the end of the day, making sure the warfighter has what he or she needs to go out the door and do their missions successfully. I’m proud to have been part of that team.”
During Gravely’s time as commander, he prioritized memorializing the Virginia Army National Guard’s fallen Soldiers and preserving their memories, something Gallagher said is incredibly important.
“Paul invested in this on a very personal level, to memorialize some of the heroes in the Virginia Army National Guard by naming some ranges and facilities here on post after some of our heroes in our own ranks,” said Gallagher. “It’s meaningful and no small thing. To me, it’s not just a plaque on a range or a framed citation inside a building. To many of us, those are voices and faces that we knew and served with. To have these facilities here at our MTC is a huge benefit to the Virginia Army National Guard.”
Some of those facilities include the Staff Sgt. Jesse Ault Wheeled Vehicle Obstacle Course, which was dedicated in 2019, and the Banks-Lambert Handheld Detection Lane, dedicated in March 2021. Both training sites honored VNG Soldiers who died while serving in Iraq. Both sites also brought a new training capability to MTC, helping establish the post as a premiere training location for VNG units as well as units from other states and services.
“Paul’s leadership in developing those and getting those on board really made Fort Pickett a destination venue. This is a mid-Atlantic destination MTC. This is a very busy MTC, and it’s much, much more than just Virginia Army National Guard,” said Gallagher.
Soldiers assigned to the Troutville-based 29th Infantry Division band provided ceremonial music for the change of command.
Pillion is a graduate of Morehead State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in government. He also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Lincoln Memorial University. He started his Army career as an infantry platoon leader in the Kentucky Army National Guard. He soon transferred to Virginia, where he started as a platoon leader and an executive officer in the 1033rd Transportation Company. He has served in the Gate City-based 1032nd Transportation Company and 1030th Transportation Battalion, and the Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Service Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group. He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 1030th. He has served in various roles at Joint Force Headquarters, and was the deputy commander for the 329th RSG before serving as the SMR garrison commander and in the G3.
Gravely, a native of Lashmeet, West Virginia, began his Army career as in 1995 as a private in West Virginia National Guard before attending Officer Candidate School and earning his commission as an Armor officer. He served in various company-grade assignments in both the West Virginia and Virginia Army National Guard, including in company commander roles in the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and the Portsmouth-based 2nd Battalion, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th IBCT. He’s served in the JFHQ and as the executive officer for the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT, and commanded the Fort Pickett-based 1st Battalion, 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute. He’s spent the last 20 years in various roles at MTC Fort Pickett, including range officer and director of Plans, Training and Security before taking garrison command in 2018. He deployed twice, in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and earned a Bronze Star. He holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Bluefield State College, and a Masters degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.