OWASCO — Lt. Col. Matthew Schaffer, commander of the 102nd Military Police Battalion, told 1st Lt. Derrick Rocker he will succeed admirably as the new commander of the New York Army National Guard company in Auburn.
Rocker took over at a change of command ceremony Saturday. Schaffer, who chose Rocker for the role, lauded Rocker in front of his fellow soldiers at Lakeview Golf & Country Club in Owasco. Schaffer praised the abilities and intelligence of both Rocker and outgoing commander Capt. Katie Chen, who had been selected to lead in Auburn in October 2016
"Derrick, you're here because you're the best man for the job," Schaffer said.
After the ceremony, Schaffer said Rocker embodies the values the army seeks in leaders. Schaffer called Chen "a shining star" who he expects to have a long list of promotions awaiting her in the future.
Rocker is from Scipio Center and has lived in Auburn since 2014. His background includes past stints as military police platoon leader with the 222nd Military Police Company in Rochester and as an executive officer for the 105th Military Police Company in Buffalo in 2015, according to a press release. He was deployed to Kuwait with the 369th Sustainment Brigade in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2016 to 2017.
Chen said she is tentatively set to go to New York Army National Guard Joint Force Headquarters in Watervliet, New York. Before taking the Auburn command she had done work such as being a military police platoon leader with the 206th Military Police Company in the hamlet of Latham while simultaneously holding an active duty for operational support position as the state Casualty Affairs Officer with Military Personnel in Watervliet, according to a press release. She had also been deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2014. While Chen served as commander in Auburn, the unit took part in a joint training exercise with active duty units at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Rocker said at the ceremony he was honored to command, and praised Chen's leadership and rapport with her soldiers. He thanked the soldiers for their sacrifices, such as missing holidays and births of children during training.
"As we move forward I look forward to facing any and all challenges together," he said.
Chen wished Rocker luck at the ceremony but felt he won't need it, as "you are leading the best group of soldiers there are." She told the soldiers they are the reason she felt she succeeded as commander.
"It is standing side by side next to each one of you in formation today that made it the best job I've ever had," Chen said.