Maj. Gen. Buford Blount is leaving for Washington, and even though the change has been in the works for months, his departure today is bittersweet. This morning, Gen. Blount said goodbye to the soldiers, families, and neighbors at Fort Stewart who made history. WTOC was there for this historic change of command.
"What we experienced over there in combat with soldiers has brought my emotions closer to the surface in many respects," the general said. "It really is harder to leave the troops you fight with."
Blount reminded the soldiers of his arrival speech in November 2001, when he warned days of combat were coming. Under his command, they lead America's liberation of Iraq. "Rolling into Bagdad, crossing the Euphrates River, those things I'll never forget," he said. "And the performance of soldiers doing it I'll never forget."
Blount reviewed his combat troops one more time before he left for duties at the Pentagon. He passed the command through channels to Maj. Gen. William Glenn Webster, who says nothing will change. He says one of his goals keep the soldiers ready to fight, any time, anywhere.
"Every man and woman assigned to the Thirrd Infantry at Fort Stewart, Hunter or Fort Benning, will be a soldier first then a mechanic, a clerk, a bandsman or battalion commander second," he said.
Blount says part of his job at the Pentagon will be to use his experience in this war to get the Army ready for the next one. His official title will be deputy G-3 or operations officer. Webster's command at Fort Stewart marks his third tour of duty at the post, including back in the late '80s and the late '90s.