By Denise Y. Susnir
1st Medical Recruiting Battalion
August 17, 2017
FORT MEADE, Md. -- Lt. Col. Merbin Carattini assumed command of the 1st Medical Recruiting Battalion in a ceremony Friday at the Fort Meade Pavilion.
Lt. Col. Tracy Michael relinquished command to Carattini in the 10 a.m. ceremony officiated by Col. Heather Kness, commander of U.S. Army Medical Recruiting Brigade.
Michael's new assignment is director of the Army Surgeon General's Congressional Affairs and Contact Office.
"Today marks a milestone in the distinguished history of the Patriot Battalion," Kness said in her opening remarks.
Carattini previously served at Joint Base San Antonio as the executive officer to the deputy commanding general for operations, U.S. Army Medical Command.
"It is my great pleasure to stand before you as the successor to a great lineage of commanders who successfully represented U.S. Army Medicine with distinction and set an example of a committed effort towards recruiting talent within communities all over the Northeast and Europe," Carattini said.
"I am both honored and humbled as I consider the immense responsibilities inherent in this command. I am committed to the mission. We will not fail.
"We must look into the future with clear eyes, confronting the challenges to build the best Army in the world," Carattini said.
The change of command was attended by distinguished guests, including retired U.S. Army Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho; Ken Wong, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, Pennsylvania (East); retired Col. Tim Lamb; retired Col. Kelvin Owens; retired Col. Alex Lopez-Duke; and Col. Ed Weinberg, director of communications at U.S. Army Medical Command.
Music for the ceremony was provided by the U.S. Army Fife and Drum Corps.
Sgt. 1st Class James Laney of the 1st Medical Recruiting Battalion was the ceremony's narrator.
Chaplain (Maj.) Scott King, of the Northeast Region Chaplain Recruiting Team, gave the invocation.
(From left:) Col. Heather Kness, Lt. Col. Tracy Michael and Lt. Col Merbin Carattini salute during the national anthem at the change-of-command ceremony. (Photo by Michael D. Williams)
The 1st Medical Recruiting Battalion, the largest of five medical recruiting battalions in the U.S., recruits medical professionals and chaplains across 14 Northeast states. Located on Fort Meade, the battalion has four medical recruiting companies, 22 medical recruiting centers and a staff of over 135 Soldiers and civilians.
Its mission is to recruit the best health care providers and chaplains in the country.
"Under Tracy's energetic and visionary leadership, the Patriots accomplished 100 percent of their recruiting mission for the first time last year and are poised for a repeat performance this year," Kness said in her speech.
"To translate into terms that everyone here can understand, the team brought in nearly 700 Army Medical Department officers and 68 Army chaplains into service over the last two years, making a direct impact on the current and future readiness of the Army.
"Command Sergeant Major [Michael] Schwab and I are very proud of this team for their incredible efforts. The Patriots represent the very best of our Army and America. [Michael] commanded this formation to the very moment he passed the colors, remaining unquestionably loyal to the Patriots and his inseparable teammate, Command Sergeant Major [James D.] Keaster."
Kness welcomed Carattini and his family to the Highlander Brigade and to the Patriot team.
"I am so happy that our career paths have crossed yet again," she said. "Mer, you are a fantastic leader and I know you will continue to build on Tracy's success. Command Sergeant Major Schwab and I are excited for this new chapter in in the Patriot history book."
Carattini thanked Maj. Gen. Jeffery Snow, commander of U.S. Army Recruiting Command, and Kness for their trust and confidence in appointing him to the position.
Carattini praised the outgoing commander as well.
"Your iron resolve, balanced with patience and calmness, your skills as a commander and as a detailed manager have been absolutely essential in navigating the complex situations that arose during your time in command," he said.
"No one does it better."
Michael addressed his battalion for the last time after leading 1st Medical Recruiting for two years.
"Standing proudly before you today is a portion of the Soldiers that comprise the U.S. Army, 1st Medical Recruiting Battalion, responsible for recruiting health care professionals and chaplains throughout the Northeast and Europe, who will help sustain the readiness of our Army," Michael said.
"For the past two years, I have had the sincere honor of leading this great battalion and serving alongside some of the most talented and dedicated NCOs, officers and civilians in our Army.
"The simple reality is, if the 'Fighting First Battalion' fails at our mission, the Army is less ready to do theirs," Michael said. "I loved being a part of this dynamic team and will deeply miss working there."