Adapting to the Times; 104th Division (LT) Conducts a Virtual Change of Command Ceremony

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The 104th Division (Leader Training) conducted a virtual Change of Command ceremony between outgoing commanding general, Brig. Gen. Joseph A. Edwards II, and incoming commanding general, Brig. Gen. Rodney J. Fischer, on August 6th. Friends, colleagues and leaders from different areas of the country participated in this unprecedented ceremony via an online communications platform.

From offices here at JBLM, a temporary duty (TDY) barracks at Camp Parks, Calif., and homes in the surrounding area and afar, the time honored tradition in spite of the pandemic was carried out.

Narrating the ceremony from her office at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, Master Sgt. Kimberlee R. Hilliard began the first division virtual ceremony in earnest. Chaplain (Lt. Col.) James R. Maxwell then provided the invocation from his home in Washington.

With a virtual salute between Brig. Gen. Rodney J. Fischer and Maj. Gen. Andrew J. Juknelis, commanding general of the 108th Training Command (Initial Entry Training), Fischer assumed command.

“I’m truly honored and humbled to be given this opportunity.” Fischer stated. “This is an important mission of developing the next generation of leaders for the Army. The 104th division leaders and its Soldiers have done an outstanding job on this mission. I could not have asked for a better or more supportive transition.”

Fischer has served in both the active and reserve components for 35 years most recently as the 80th Training Command’s deputy commanding general. He enlisted in 1985 and graduated from the United States Military Academy (USMA) in 1992. He deployed to Operation Intrinsic Action in 1995 and has served in various staff and leader capacities during his active duty time. Fischer joined the Army Reserve in 2002 and deployed to the Middle East in support of Central Command (CENTCOM) operations.

Juknelis praised the well-honed leadership skills of Fischer, whom he has worked with previously.

“He’s the right leader at the right time to lead this formation back from the COVID environment, back through our individual training, back into the complex collective training again,” enthused Juknelis. “He’s a training expert and knows how to build a great team, knows how to get the best from people and recruit and develop talent. General Fischer and family welcome.”

Juknelis thanked Brig. Gen. Edwards and his family for their contributions to a successful command applauding the specific efforts of Edwards.

“…You built a great team; you’re an excellent problem solver as demonstrated in your fantastic support to TRADOC, Cadet Command, USMA and especially the way you lean forward to get after training in the COVID environment.” Juknelis also wished Edwards and his family success in the next assignment.

Fischer holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electoral Engineering from USMA and two Master’s Degrees; one in Business Administration from the University of Colorado and one from the Army War College in Strategic Studies. He is married, and he and his wife Julie have two children.

The 104th Division (LT) provides leader training support to United States Army Cadet Command (USACC), United States Army Military Academy (USMA), and to select Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Universities across the nation to build future leaders for the Army. The unit adapted from its activation in 1921 and its combat days as an infantry division in northern Europe during World War II. Just as the unit adapted through mission changes, its Soldiers found ways to achieve their own mission success in the COVID environment.

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