Change of command: Honolulu native takes reins at PTA
POHAKULOA TRAINING AREA — With a ceremonial passing of the colors, outgoing Lt. Col. Christopher M. Marquez relinquished command of Pohakuloa Training Area to Lt. Col. Loreto V. Borce Jr.
“JR, you are the right man at the right time for so many reasons to command this garrison,” Col. Stephen E. Dawson, commander U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii and reviewing officer, told Borce, who goes by “JR,” and scores of attendees at the biennial Change of Command ceremony held Thursday at the 134,000-acre installation.
Dawson, who reviewed Borce for the post, pointed to the soldier’s accolades and meritorious service, attitude, reputation and his “million-dollar smile.”
“That smile’s going to go a long way out in the community,” he said. “But I got to tell you JR, when it comes to command, the buck stops with you. You’re the man. You’re in charge. You’re responsible for everything that happens out here. Whether it’s the Army doing it, the Marines, or the Air Force — you’re responsible.”
Borce, a native of Honolulu who is married to wife, Kekai, and has two daughters and two sons, has been a soldier for more than 20 years, and has served four combat tours, two each in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The West Point Academy graduate has received more than a dozen awards, among them the Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the NATO Medal.
His last assignment was with the U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii, where he was a deputy fire support coordinator with 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks on Oahu.
But he’s no stranger to Pohakuloa having been stationed with the 25th Infantry Division between 2004 and 2006 and again from 2008 to 2010. His current assignment as PTA commander lasts two years and his family has not yet decided where on Hawaii Island they will reside.
“I want to make Pohakuloa transparent to the community, and also to strengthen that relationship (that’s already established),” Borce said, “and, show what Pohakuloa is all about and what we can bring to the local community. And, also help the local community, so we can work together.”
Efforts to work with and foster relationships with community and make the garrison more transparent was one of the highlights Dawson pointed out when discussing Marquez’s time as PTA commander, which commenced June 1, 2016, and ended effective Thursday.
“That is your legacy. Everything you did out here with the community and to help those that you live and work and play with here is huge,” Dawson said.
Dawson also commended Marquez’s overseeing training 24,000 soldiers during his two years at PTA, the installation of a new platoon battle course, protection of cultural and natural resources, and getting through a federal furlough that left the installation without its 200 civilian employees, among others.
“Everything you did was just truly creative and brilliance,” he said.
Marquez thanked the many people that made his time leading PTA successful over the past two years.
“It’s because of all of those people that I feel honored and privileged to stand here today,” he told the crowd.
His message to the incoming commander:
“You come pre-loaded with the right skill set and ability to make an incredible difference at PTA. You already have a running start with relationships and the knowledge to excel,” Marquez said. “Take care of this incredible team and they will amaze you each and every day.”
With his command relinquished, Marquez is headed to Eastern Europe for his next two-year assignment. There, he will command the new Garrison Romania, which is under construction.
Dawson said Marquez was “hand-selected” by Lt. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, commander of U.S. Army Installation Management Command overseeing all 75 Army garrisons around the world, because “he’s the right guy to do the job.”