Missouri Guard maintenance unit in Fulton gets new commander

Missouri National Guard Capt. James Frazier, left, accepts the Company B, 311th Brigade Support Battalion guidon from Lt. Col. Jeffrey Sloan, the brigade commander, to symbolize Frazier taking command of the company during a change of command ceremony at Fulton. (Photo by Matthew J. Wilson)

Missouri National Guard Capt. James Frazier, left, accepts the Company B, 311th Brigade Support Battalion guidon from Lt. Col. Jeffrey Sloan, the brigade commander, to symbolize Frazier taking command of the company during a change of command ceremony at Fulton.
(Photo by Matthew J. Wilson)

By Matthew J. Wilson

FULTON, Mo. - The Missouri National Guard's Company B, 311th Brigade Support Battalion now has a new commander for the first time in more than three years.

Capt. James D. Frazier, who lives in St. Joseph, recently took command of the Fulton unit from Capt. Tim A. Grenke, who lives in Centralia and has been the commander since September of 2009.

Frazier said he was ecstatic about taking his first command.

"It's always an exciting time to be entrusted to take on a company," Frazier said. "It's a big responsibility. I really look forward to serving with these Soldiers and seeing what kind of accomplishments we can achieve."

Grenke said he's learned a lot during his time in command of Company B, and he also hopes he's been a good teacher and mentor.

"I kind of was a fair commander - I don't think I favored any one person over another," he said. "I listened to everybody and was approachable. I think that is the mark of a good commander - somebody who is fair and upholds the seven Army Values."

Company B, headquartered at Fulton, provides maintenance support to the 110th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and attached units in full spectrum operations and in civil support missions.

Lt. Col. Jeffrey Sloan, battalion commander of the 311th Brigade Support Battalion, of Lexington, said Frazier was selected to replace Grenke because of his great leadership skill set.

"He's a very solid officer," Sloan said of Frazier.

Although Frazier comes from a field artillery background, Sloan said Frazier will transition to this logistics officer position smoothly.

"He'll be a great commander regardless of the type of unit and he'll get qualified," Sloan said. "Coming from the outside, that will probably be good to have a fresh perspective on the unit."

Sloan, who has only been battalion commander for the past three months, said he hadn't had a lot of time to observe what type of a commander Grenke has been, but was very impressed with him during the state-wide Vigilant Guard exercise in November.

"He did a great job reducing the backlog of maintenance hours and really being prepared to support anything that Vigilant Guard needed," Sloan said.

Grenke said the best advice he could give Frazier is to listen to the senior noncommissioned officers, who know the operations and their jobs well.

"I hope he can build on the experiences that this company has been through," Grenke said.

Frazier said he's already in the process of completing the training he'll need to become a logistics officer and doesn't anticipate any snags. In fact, Frazier said he welcomes the opportunity to be more of an asset to the Guard.

"It's a good thing for an officer to find a new branch - it's something that I expect will make me a better-rounded office by coming from a combat arms background to combat support," he said. "I plan to finish school in March which will officially make me a logistics officer. But it is going to be a challenge to meld into that combat support mentality and doing what's needed."

Until then, Frazier said he plans to learn from the current staff.

"I'll really lean on the expertise of the leadership that's already here in place, just as I would at a field artillery battery," he said. "So there is not a lot of difference there - you have to lean on your leadership."

His goal is to ensure the unit is up to current standards and to maintain Soldier readiness.

Frazier has served in the Missouri Guard for more than nine years after he enlisted as a combat medic in 2003. He went through officer candidate school and commissioned in 2006. Frazier deployed to Kosovo from 2008-2009 with 1st Battalion, 229th Field Artillery, of Maryville, as a maneuver platoon leader.

During the week, Frazier works full-time for the Missouri Guard in the Active Guard and Reserve program as the assistant training officer for the 110th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, in Kansas City.

A 1997 graduate of Central High School in St. Joseph, Frazier earned a Bachelor's of Science in operations management from Grantham University in 2009 after earning most of his credits from Southwest Baptist University, in Bolivar.

Frazier is supported in his military career by his wife, Sarah, their son, Joe, 7, and two-stepsons, Mason, who lives in Maryville, and Ethan, who lives in the home.

During his time as commander of Company B, Grenke helped the unit transition through three major changes.

First, the company, then headquartered in Centertown, absorbed a company detachment that had previously been stationed at Lexington around March of 2010.

"I think that helped to build some unit cohesiveness and got everyone to work together better," Grenke said.

A year later, the Centertown armory was closed and Company B was moved over the course of three months to Fulton.

In the end, Grenke said the move provided more room for Company B to operate and benefited the unit greatly.

"The Centertown armory and the maintenance company was not a good fit because any maintenance that we had to do, we had to come down to the Ike Skelton Training Site in Jefferson City to do any maintenance; and we shared a weapons vault with a unit at the Blue Armory in Jefferson City," he said. "That was kind of a logistical nightmare."

Finally in May of 2012, more restructuring occurred and Company B lost 89 of its 157 positions.

"I think we took a pretty big role in helping that transition," Grenke said. "Some Soldiers elected to retire and some Soldiers elected to find new units."

Now Grenke will move on to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 311th Brigade Support Battalion, of Lexington, where he'll serve as the ammunition officer.

"I'll get in there and learn my job," Grenke said. "I'll be the ammunition officer on paper, but there will be additional duties as assigned."

Grenke has more than 23 years of military service that began with a 13-and-a-half year enlistment in the Marine Corps - the first 11 on active duty. In December of 2002, Grenke enlisted in the Missouri Guard, went through officer candidate school and was commissioned in September of 2005.

During the week, Grenke works as a safety specialist for the Missouri Guard at the Ike Skelton Training Site in Jefferson City. He also is the mayor of Centralia.

A 1985 high school graduate of Saint Mary's Academy and College, in Saint Marys, Kan., Grenke earned a Bachelor's of Science in Computer Information Systems from Columbia College, in Columbia, Mo., in 2004.

Grenke is supported in his military career by his wife, Cheri, and his children, Shannon, Christopher, Rose, Ketrina, Brian, Violet, and David, all of the home; and two additional children, Greg and Jessica, who both live in Columbia.

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