Maj. Gen. Gwen Bingham, the outgoing WSMR Commander, officially said farewell to the WSMR workforce during an emotional Relinquishment of Command ceremony June 6 at the Frontier Club.
“It goes without saying Maj. Gen. Bingham’s been an ambassador. She has been described as the type of leader who leads her team with dignity and respect,” said ATEC Commander Maj. Gen. Peter Utley. “In terms of the mission, there’s no doubt it’s foremost in her mind. It’s all one team and she truly does care about people.”
During the ceremony, Bingham reiterated her message of teamwork and never assuming you are too big for anyone or any event. Bingham, who will be taking over the U.S. Army Tank Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, Michigan, said she will be taking a piece of everyone with her.
“I appreciate your support. I truly, truly will miss and appreciate you,” she said
Bingham served as the installation’s first female, African-American commander. During her 21 months at WSMR, Bingham made it her goal to help break barriers and create a new attitude of caring an understanding within the WSMR workforce. Bingham took her leadership skills and message of teamwork across the border when she spoke at a women’s history month event in Cuidad Juarez, Mexico and again in Mexico City.
“It speaks to the reach and the impact Gen. Bingham and P.J. (Bingham’s husband) have. The impact of this team on WSMR, I think, will truly be lasting,” Utley said. “Members of the WSMR workforce will truly miss the presence of a real down to earth leader. You truly make WSMR the premiere test facility that it is.”
“Her accomplishments had far reaching impacts. She knows that being a role model is truly powerful. She gives freely of herself,” he added. Prior to the official relinquishment of command, Bingham and her husband received several gifts and awards in a private ceremony. Bingham’s husband P.J. was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal for his service and dedication to the range and the surrounding communities.
“You are both outstanding models of what our Soldiers should strive to become,” Utley said.
P.J. served as the vice-principal at Las Cruces High School.
“We’ve got truly talented students and people in our community,” P.J. said. “We can never give up. Everything has great potential in life.”
Utley also presented Bingham with the Distinguished Service Medal and a shadow box of the ATEC installation coins. Utley helped pass the WSMR colors and responsibilities to WSMR Executive Director Paul Mann. Mann will be taking over until incoming commander Brig. Gen. Timothy Coffin arrives in July. An assumption of command ceremony is scheduled for July 2.
Mann took the opportunity to thank his family for their dedication and sacrifices that have allowed him to serve as a civilian in the greatest capacity. He also spoke about the great example Bingham has been to the WSMR workforce with her work ethic and communication. Mann said he will continue to build on the teamwork mantra and lead the WSMR workforce on the framework of the Army civilian service creed he took.
“Today I continue my passion for civil service, I’m humbled by the care and trust,” Mann said. “Quality, duty, respect and selfless service. Maj. Gen. Utley you have our total commitment to these ideals,” Mann said.
“As professionals it is our cultural heritage to meet and exceed even the greatest expectation together,” he added.
The official ceremony also served as a farewell to former commander Bingham who took the opportunity to thank the workforce for the memories and the lasting friendships. She invited everyone to visit her in her new home and keep in contact.
“Don’t act like you don’t know me when I call,” Bingham said. “This is Commanding General number 32 signing off.”