FORT BENNING, Ga. (WRBL) — When Col. Jimmy Hathaway took over the command of the 198th Infantry Brigade from Col. Ryan B. Wylie at Fort Benning today. there were a lot of emotions boiling inside Hathaway, a career soldier who took the enlisted to Officer Candidate School route.
“I started basic training here in January 1989,” Hathaway told News 3. “I graduated on April 14, 1989. And to now be able to come back to the organization that I started my career in and who really formed me as a person, who taught me and has been part of my home for 33-plus years, it was very surreal. It was an incredible, incredible feeling. I am riding pretty high right now.”
Hathaway has gone where the Army has sent him for the last 33 years, but he and his wife of 23 years, Keleigh, have made Columbus home – and the Army a way of life.
And make no mistake, it is a way of life. Ask Hathaway’s friend, retired Command Sgt. Maj. James Pearson.
“I messed with him. I said, ‘Jimmy, when are you going to quit? When are you going to stop playing Army?” Pearson said.
No, time soon, said Keleigh.
“I agree with the sergeant major; he’s never going to stop playing Army,” Keleigh said.
Hathaway’s heart is in soldiering.
“Jim is a soldier’s soldier,” Keleigh said. “And this job is giving him the opportunity to get back to being with soldiers and soldiering, which are his two great loves.”
And it’s a job he’s cut out for, Pearson said.
“But to see him come full circle around to command the Infantry Training Brigade, which molds the future infantry soldiers for our force,” Pearson said. “He’s the perfect guy for the job at this time.”
Commanding the unit where it all started was a dream assignment for Hathaway.
“This is where I wanted to come,” he said. “When the Army does their process, I put this at the very top because I wanted to come back to this.”
And he knows the responsibility that comes with this assignment, producing nearly 8,000 new soldiers a year.
“These are our future,” Hathaway said. “These kids are what our future really is. These young soldiers that come in are the pride of every family from every town across America. They are our future, whether they stay in for four years or they stay in for 20. They are the ones who are going to take us to the next level. So, it’s important that we do the right things and shape them in the way that’s right.”
Col. Wylie won’t be going far. He will be the next chief of staff here at Fort Benning.
On July 14, there is another change of Command scheduled. Maj. Gen. Pat Donahoe will relinquish command of the Maneuver Center of Excellence to the new commander, Maj. Gen. Curtis Buzzard.