FORT PICKETT, Va. –
Lt. Col. James C. Shaver Jr. took command of Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett from Col. Timothy D. Pillion during a ceremony May 14, 2022, 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 Pillion to Shaver.
“We expect MTC to be the premier training destination in the Mid-Atlantic,” Gallagher said, adding that Shaver’s skill and experience will help make him successful as the garrison commander.
“As a fellow engineer officer, I know that Jaycee knows the best way to traverse a minefield is behind someone,” Gallagher said.
He commended Pillion for setting MTC on a course of success and expressed confidence in Shaver’s ability to move the installation to even more national prominence as a Maneuver Training Center of excellence.
Gallagher thanked Pillion for his service and praised his leadership during his tour leading MTC.
“There is nothing in Tim’s previous assignments designed to prepare him for his seminal challenge of hosting the Operation Allies Welcome here at MTC,” Gallagher said. “I recall Tim’s remarks in April 2021 when he followed Col. Gravely; I remember nothing about RSOI [Reception, Staging, Onward-movement and Integration] for thousands of migrant Afghans; I remember nothing about negotiating life support for thousands of our cousins in First Army or the United Sates Marine Corps that descended upon MTC. And yet, his command tour was dominated by this massive undertaking.”
Gallagher recalled how Pillion relied upon his personal attributes when confronted with the OAW mission- patience, professionalism and candor.
“Leveraging these personal skills, Tim led life support for an incredibly wide variety of stake holders, tuned out the static and kept all focused on common goals,” Gallagher said. “Col. Pillion’s service at MTC was a graduate-level seminar in the most fundamental of all leadership skills- building teams. He excelled.”
Gallagher lauded the capabilities and capacities of MTC, including the leading-edge training venues and the training and life support facilities at MTC. But what really sets MTC apart from other training centers, he said, is its people.
“Our MTC is staffed by an effective and dedicated group of people that is the envy of most other commands,” Gallagher said.
Regardless of their status as federal or state employees, in uniform or out, they all coalesce around the objective of sustaining and building excellence at MTC, he remarked.
“It’s because of the MTC team that the MTC commander will be successful,” Gallagher said. “It’s because of you that MTC will become the premier training venue in the Mid-Atlantic. Of this, we have no doubt. Tim and Jaycee are fortunate to lead such a high caliber team. Thank you for your continued service.”
Pillion will retire after more than 30 years of service in both the Kentucky and Virginia National Guard. His final assignment, as commander of MTC, was dominated by its mission supporting Operation Allies Welcome.
“I’m proud to have the opportunity to lead that part of our mission, but really the success we have is because of the employees we have here on the MTC team, the team that Col. Gravely set up and I inherited,” Pillion said. “A lot of good folks, from DOL [Directorate of Logistics], DPW [Directorate of Public Works], DPTS [Directorate of Plans, Training & Security], just a great team that jumped in there and worked a tremendous amount of hours and a tremendous amount of effort to make that mission successful. It’s been a pleasure to get to know each of you and work with you over the past year.”
“I don’t think there is anyone better to come into this assignment and lead this team as we continue to recover from OAW and continue to improve on the offerings at MTC,” Pillion said of Shaver. “I’m a phone call away if there’s ever anything I can do to support you.”
Shaver thanked those in attendance and reminded them that they are the ones who made it possible for him to take command.
“I see a great gathering of family, friends, peers, mentors and Soldiers I’ve served with over the years,” he said “Please know it is all of you that have made this opportunity possible today.”
He also thanked his family for their continued support during his career.
“In the military we know that families serve as well and for my family’s contribution I am truly blessed,” he said.
Shaver compared the garrison commander to a city manager and explained Fort Pickett is a key anchor in the community with ties to all the surrounding localities. Not only is the installation a critical resource for the Virginia National Guard, but also for the surrounding communities and the Department of Defense as a whole.
“I am humbled by the faith leadership has in me, honored by the opportunity to take on this role, and excited for the great things to come,” Shaver said. “I feel like I have been gravitating toward this position since 1999 when I first started working here. Anyone who has heard me brief knows I love Fort Pickett. I can only hope to leave an admirable legacy behind like all the commanders before me.”
Soldiers assigned to the Troutville-based 29th Infantry Division Band provided ceremonial music for the ceremony.