Col. Michelle K. Donahue became the Army’s 56th Quartermaster General during a COVID-19-restricted ceremony Friday in Stewart-Roye Hall’s Guest Auditorium on the Petroleum and Water Department campus.
The Duke and Georgetown University alum has logged 24 years as a Soldier. She replaced Brig. Gen. Douglas M. McBride, who is retiring after 31 years of service.
Maj. Gen. Rodney D. Fogg, CASCOM and Fort Lee commanding general, hosted the event with Command Sgt. Maj. Eric J. Vidal I, QM Corps CSM, serving as the leader of troops. Others present included family members of the incoming and outgoing commandants as well as corps and schoolhouse staff, safely spaced throughout the auditorium.
Those viewing the ceremony live via social media included retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff; retired Lt. Gen. Arthur J. Gregg, former Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics; Lt. Gen. Darrell K. Williams, director of the Defense Logistics Agency; and retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler.
The new QM General comes to Fort Lee from the Pentagon where she served with the Army G8. Prior to that, Donahue commanded the 16th Sustainment Brigade and completed combat tours in Jordan, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Donahue’s husband, Col. Patrick Donahue, is a Medical Service Corps officer.
Praising the new QM General as a “proven leader and extraordinary talent,” Fogg said Donahue is well prepared to take on an organization charged with developing doctrine and providing sustainment solutions as well as training 20,000 Soldiers yearly.
“She is clearly ready to command the historic and proud Quartermaster Corps,” the CG said, also noting he has worked with her in the past. “There’s no doubt in my mind Col. Donahue will continue to take the Quartermaster School and CASCOM to higher heights.”
Donahue, the last to speak, thanked McBride and his family for their service, and Fogg and his command team for the warm reception. She also expressed enthusiasm about working with fellow schoolhouse commandants, and “looks forward to sharing ideas, modernizing the sustainment enterprise, and building relationships in order to coach, teach, develop and mentor the next generation of sustainment professionals.”
She acknowledged her new staff, saying, “I look forward to inspiring excellence, promoting trust and serving the Soldiers and their families alongside you.”
Donahue closed by expressing gratitude for the work being performed by 23rd QM Brigade cadre and staff, and thanking family and friends for supporting her career. She also conveyed appreciation for rank-and-file QM Soldiers for what they do daily, declaring “they will carry us into the future as our predecessors have so honorably done since 1775.”
Fogg also noted in his remarks that he served with McBride during Operation Iraqi Freedom. “(He) consistently took on some of the hardest jobs in our field and always succeeded. … No matter the position, above all, Doug deeply cared about Soldiers and always did his absolute best to take care of them and their families.”
After recounting McBride’s many accomplishments, Fogg summed up his sentiments. “(Your) leadership has made a huge difference for our Army, and you’ve made our Soldiers ready on day one … I appreciate you, Doug. You have absolutely been a trusted member of the CASCOM team; a force multiplier for the Army; and I’m proud to have served alongside you several times, including in combat. … Your career has been absolutely remarkable and provided a very positive legacy for the future and for others to model.”
McBride was reflective, moving and sometimes emotional in recounting his tenure as QM General. The New York native said his capacity as a leader and influencer of more than 110,000 Soldiers across three components was “an enormous honor, extraordinary experience and a wonderful way to end my 31-year career.”
While acknowledging a long list of supporters, McBride tearfully spoke of Army Logistics University President Michael Williams, who died May 27 as a result of an illness. Ironically, he and his wife had a friendly encounter with Williams and his new wife over Valentine’s Day weekend, and he pondered out loud how his untimely passing should compel a more appreciative approach to living.
“What does it mean for us? … (To) keep his legacy alive … we hold our loved ones a little tighter today in his honor; and don’t take one day or moment for granted.”
Williams was 58 years old.
McBride took charge of the QM Corps in June 2018, a time when Training and Doctrine Command had begun upgrading field training to support the Army’s new largescale ground combat strategy. Through an extensive assessment, planning and execution process, the QM School revamped its culmination exercise, increasing it from two to four days – to include night training – in McBride’s first year.
“Our ultimate goal is to provide combat-ready Soldiers with the requisite qualities to join the force ready on day one to contribute to the fight,” he said in a Traveller article last year. “Ready On Day One” became ubiquitous amongst quartermasters, as common as “Support Starts Here” or “Army Strong,” mottoes for CASCOM and the Army, respectively.
McBride also can count as achievements the expansion of blended-learning environments within the schoolhouse, the QM Corps’ contribution to Field Manual 4.0 and several ongoing modernization efforts. He thanked his staff – Soldiers, civilians and contractors – for enthusiastically joining him in tackling an infinite number of hurdles to get the job done.
“This team has answered the challenge and has done so with elegance and grace. … I cannot be more proud to have served as your 55th Quartermaster General.”
He saved the choicest words for his wife, Pamela, whom he met 34 years ago while attending college in Boston.
“The trajectory of my life was changed forever,” he said while looking at his wife sitting in the front row. “It’s been a phenomenal ride ever since. You are the foundation and building block for Team McBride … servant leader, wizard behind the curtain pulling all the levers to make sure we all realize our full potential. … As I close out this chapter, I want to say thank you for being my hero and my rock.”
Prior to the change of command ceremony, McBride was presented the Distinguished Service Medal. He did not speak of his plans for retirement.