Camp Smith bids farewell to battalion commander
By Cpl. Isis M. Ramirez
| U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific | August 06, 2013
CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii --
After initiating countless projects and quality-of-life improvements, Col. Brent S. Willson, outgoing commanding officer of Headquarters and Service Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, relinquished command to Col. Darric M. Knight here July 26.
Willson, who was known by the call sign “Quato,” arrived at HqSvcBn in August 2011. At that time he inherited a battalion that inspectors classified as “non-mission capable.” Willson vividly recalled the immediate pressure and scrutiny he received under expectations to drastically improve the situation at the headquarters.
It wasn’t very long before MarForPac’s top officers could see the meaning of his nickname unveil, a “Total Recall” movie reference of a creature with the knowledge to save the world. From improvements to the headquarters building built in 1939 to improvements of parking and pedestrian safety, Willson began radiating change upon his arrival.
“If you look at everything he does, it is pull-up bars down at Ford Island, all the way up to parking stalls,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Simcock, deputy commander of MarForPac. “It’s flag poles to fundraisers, it’s new signs … and all the way down to brand new kitchens [for the Marines]. I have seen him painting curbs, cleaning gutters, cleaning windows, policing the parking lot. You name it, he’s done it and he’s never asked his Marines to do something he doesn’t do himself.”
No one was surprised when the battalion proved to be noteworthy in 22 functional areas, becoming the top-rated unit inspected in 2012.
“If I was to define Quato … I would (define him as) a superior Marine officer, an officer who came in to work every day and before he would leave, ensured … his Marines and Sailors’ welfare was taken care of,” Simcock said. “All those leadership traits and principles [in the Marine Corps], he exuded every day.”
After two years of selfless service, Willson is happily leaving Hawaii to rejoin his family in San Diego and Knight has assumed responsibility of an almost-spotless battalion.
“Often times, you want to assume a command that’s screwed up,” Knight said jokingly as he thanked Willson for all of his contributions. “If anybody doesn’t know, you want to assume it screwed up because then whatever you do, you’re doing great things. I can’t say that here because Brent has done so well here, he’s done such great things. … I thank you very much for setting us up for success.”
After receiving the battalion colors, Knight looked at Simcock and promised to do everything he can to keep the battalion on its upward spiral.
“That trust and confidence that is placed in me through the institution and through you, I deeply appreciate,” Knight said. “Thank you very much. My sword is yours. In two years’ time I pledge that I will either be carrying my shield or on top of it.”