U.S. Special Operations Command Europe celebrated the end of a career of service while welcoming a new commander during a change of command ceremony held in the Patch Fitness Center gymnasium July 16.
More than 200 spectators gathered to watch in traditional military custom as the unit’s colors were passed from outgoing commander Army Maj. Gen. Michael S. Repass to U.S. European Command Commander Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove to incoming SOCEUR commander Air Force Maj. Gen. Marshall B. Webb, symbolically transferring the responsibility of command.
Prior to the ceremony, Repass, who will retire later this year, was privately presented the Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service throughout his career.
Breedlove praised Repass for his contributions to the overall EUCOM mission as the SOCEUR commander.
“You’ve heard it, but I’ll say it again, SOCEUR is an essential part of our EUCOM command, and Gen. Repass’ leadership and initiatives have made this organization into an exceptional ― truly exceptional ― unit … .
“Mike, your contributions to the Special Forces community, EUCOM and the alliance have made a mark that really only you understand, but we are learning more and more every day about what you’ve done. I congratulate you for an excellent job … you can be real proud of what you’ve done.” Breedlove said.
Repass thanked Breedlove and all the other attendees before bidding farewell to the service members and civilians he led for almost three years as SOCEUR commander.
“Linda and I are immensely grateful for the privilege to be among you … over the past three years,” he said.
“Departing generals are not a graceful sight, straight up. So I’ve appreciated your assistance along the way, for the past several months in particular, because it’s been a long stroll to the exit,” Repass said.
He particularly praised the sub-components of 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne); Naval Special Warfare Unit 2; 352nd Special Operations Group; SOCEUR Headquarters Commandant and the SOCEUR Signal Detachment, for their dedication and support to the mission.
Repass summed it up by recalling how a friend of his brother’s described how he would want to go out. “He said, ‘I want to go out as if I were sliding into home plate with the winning run, screaming hooo weeee, what a ride!’ So, I believe that I’m going out at the top of my game, and I can’t imagine a better way to step off.”
Breedlove introduced Webb as a carefully chosen leader with an incredible reputation and proven experience, especially in a European environment.
“He has already spent numerous tours throughout Europe and has a firm understanding of our mission,” Breedlove said. “We warmly welcome him and [his wife] Dawna to the Stuttgart community. Rest assured, as I do, knowing that SOCEUR will work well in his capable hands.”
Webb thanked Breedlove for the opportunity given to him to lead SOCEUR, humbly expressing his gratitude.
Webb then said that SOCEUR stands ready, summing up SOCEUR’s contribution to EUCOM with the phrase “persistent presence for persistent instability.”
He went on to say that “what SOCEUR in essence brings is a forward presence that enables special operations in EUCOM to conduct taskings and enables our partners.”
Webb previously served as the director of Plans, Programs, Requirements and Assessments, Headquarters, Air Force Special Operations Command, at Hurlburt Field, Fla.