16 August 2018
Descarreaux Takes Command of USAMRICD

Maj. Gen. Barbara R. Holcomb, commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, passes the flag to Col. Denis G. Descarreaux as he assumes command of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense. Photo by Cary Sisolak, USAMRICD
USAMRICD writer On July 24, Col. Denis G. Descarreaux assumed command of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense from Col. Margery M. Hanfelt, during a ceremony at the Institute’s headquarters at Aberdeen Proving Ground South.

Maj. Gen. Barbara R. Holcomb, commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, presided over the ceremony.

Speaking to the assembled guests and USAMRICD staff, Holcomb described outgoing commander Hanfelt as “not afraid of change” and “very persistent.”

“Maggie focused on making the organization relevant. She worked diligently on getting ICD’s name and mission out to the public,” said Holcomb, citing as examples USAMRICD’s execution of the 2017 Opioid Summit for host Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor and the Institute’s own recently held Demo Day.

“As a commander,” continued Holcomb, “Maggie is a straight shooter who is direct and to the point. She leads with passion and desires the best for the organization and its people. She is the first to acknowledge the great work of the team, and she renewed their sense of mission and purpose.”

Addressing Hanfelt, Holcomb added, “Thank you for the outstanding job you’ve done.”

Holcomb noted that she had worked previously with Descarreaux, and she described him as “the caliber of officer who will be a perfect fit for this organization.”

“If past dictates the present, he’ll show a motivation to immerse himself into the important work here at ICD,” said Holcomb.

“I know Denis has the skill set to continue transitioning the organization into the go-to command that can really support the national medical countermeasures effort for chemicals.” Hanfelt followed Holcomb at the podium, thanking those in attendance for coming, particularly noting officials from the Harford County community and past commanders.

“The only reason I succeed is that I rode on the shoulders of giants ahead of me,” said Hanfelt. "They set the stage so I could carry the next step. My goal is to set the stage, and I know Col Descarreaux will do a phenomenal job. It’s hard to let go of command, but it’s easy when you get to turn it over to someone like Col Descarreaux.”

Hanfelt continued, “I would like to just reinforce something: We are the Nation’s center of excellence. We are who the Nation turns to for medical chemical defense. I could not have accomplished a thing if we didn’t have the caliber of people that are here that are dedicated to meeting that need. You don’t hear about us a lot because we can’t put a lot out there, but I want you to know that our team is the best around at getting after this mission.”

Hanfelt finished by describing her tenure at the USAMRICD as “one of the best assignments I have ever had.”

Hanfelt moves on to the Office of the Surgeon General to serve as the deputy Veterinary Corps chief. Descarreaux promised to carry on “the collaboration and synergy that remains so critical to the chemical and bio defense mission.”

“Col. Hanfelt did a very good job at that and I intend to continue,” he said. “To the Soldiers, civilians, and contractors of MRICD, I entered the doors of E2900 about three weeks ago,” said Descarreaux. “The first time I walked in the doors—I got to tell you something—it kind of felt right, right from the get-go. It just felt right me being here.”

“I couldn’t be more impressed with the quality of the team and the passion you have for the mission. My pledge to you is this, I will remain humble, I will listen to you, I’m going to hold on to my core values, and I’ll strive to be a servant-leader.”
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