DEVENS — Command of the Devens Reserve Forces Training Area (DRFTA) passed from Lt. Col. Caryn Heard to Lt. Col. Steven W. Nott in an indoor ceremony on Monday.
The ceremony was attended by military, businessmen, senior MassDevelopment officials, defense workers and civilians, ending 25 months of duty for Heard, who will attend War College.
Colors were passed from Heard to her commander, Col. R. David McNeil, commander of Fort Dix, N.J., who passed them to the incoming Devens commander with solemn military tradition.
McNeil then passed them to Nott, who relayed them to Command Sgt. Major Peter Brooks in a traditional sign of trust from a commander to his enlisted personnel.
The ceremony was held indoors due to inclement weather.
Heard’s sons, Allan and Aaron, rendered the National Anthem by trumpet and voice followed by an invocation by 94th Regional Readiness Command Chaplain Maj. Robert Brady.
McNeil presented Heard her second award of the Meritorious Service Medal and a desktop copy of the Ultimate Weapon infantryman statute that stands at the main gate of Fort Dix.
“You can bomb all day but until you’ve put that infantryman on the ground — soldier or marine — you haven’t accomplished anything,” McNeil said in explanation of the statue’s meaning.
“Everything today is a joint operation. We work and fight as a team (the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force) and that’s the way things ought to be,” he said.
“You have a great soldier coming here, an airborne ranger and an infantryman with multiple combat tours,” McNeil said of Nott. “He’s truly a warrior which is exactly what’s needed in time of war.
“This is a challenging job with an $11 million budget, $1 billion in assets, and 5,200 acres. An important job,” he said, commending Heard’s command.
Last year, DRFTA had more than 30,000 Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force service members (active and reserve), ROTC cadets, federal, state and local law officials present for training.
She did “damn good job,” particularly as a single parent of two sons, something he has personal experience with, McNeil said.
“She increased protection, closed streets, and created a new access control point, something which is one of the most important things we do, protecting our troops. She made facility improvements, a new running trail, and training area improvements to roads, birms, and ranges,” he said.
“Colonel Heard was an advocate to move portions to the Intelligence and Personnel Schools here and was a strong voice for safety, particularly with the motorcycle buddy program,” McNeil said. “Motorcycles are one of the largest killers of our young soldiers returning from Iraq today. They come home imbued with invincibility.”
McNeil said Heard built “an incredible” command climate which was important because it made the 94th Regional Training Center and Marines want to excel.
Heard noted the “team” has “matured” and it has been an honor to be part of it and to have worked for McNeil.
“You take care of the team and they’ll take care of you,” she said.
“To the Devens staff it’s difficult to believe it was 25 months ago (she arrived),” Heard said. “I’m honored and proud to have been selected to command. So many have poured their heart and soul into their job. By far this is the most professional and dedicated staff I’ve had,” she said. “Stay focused on the mission.”
To her sons, she said, “You’ve been with me all the way. You didn’t choose it but you pay the price for moving when duty calls.”
Nott told Heard, “I do not take your trust lightly. I hope to live up to your standard.
“My family is excited to be here. Since boots on the ground I’ve seen the professionalism,” he said.
Lt. Col. Nott became an infantry officer in the Iowa National Guard in 1986, entering active duty the next year. He has served in Germany with the 41st Infantry Regiment, served on Brigade staff, and commanded B Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment within the 10th Mountain Division.
He is a Command and General Staff College graduate, and served as G7 training officer in the 99th Regional Readiness Command among other posts. He deployed to Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Iraq, Restore Hope in Somalia, and Operations Uphold and Restore in Haiti.
He graduated from the Ranger, Airborne and Air Assault Schools. His decorations include the Purple Heart.
Nott and his wife, Charlotte Ann, have four children; Christian, 13, Bethany, 9, Elissa, 7, and Ethan, 5.