CLAY NATIONAL GUARD CENTER, Marietta, Georgia, May 15, 2016 – A recent ceremony marked a change of command for the Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF) 1st Brigade, positioning GSDF’s largest brigade to continue its legacy of excellence. The command was transferred to Col. Sam Peng from Col. Brad Bryant, who ended his distinguished GSDF service in retirement.
“You came onboard when the country needed you,” GSDF Commanding Officer Brig. Gen. Tom Danielson said to Col. Bryant, who joined the GSDF in 2001, shortly after the tragic events of 9/11. “Thank you for your professionalism and dedication to the 1st Brigade and to the GSDF, as a whole.”
Brig. Gen. Danielson recognized Col. Bryant and Col. Peng for their outstanding service. He also acknowledged contributions from the 1st Brigade. “You’re a very important part of what goes on here,” Brig. Gen. Danielson said, in addressing 1st Brigade Soldiers standing in formation during the ceremony. “You’re a very important part of something larger than yourself. It’s why we’re all here.”
Soldiers, family, and friends attended the ceremony, which highlighted the careers of both officers.
Col. Bryant, a graduate of Oak Ridge Military Academy and the University of Alabama, held various positions in the GSDF. These included platoon leader, company commander, detachment commander, battalion commander, brigade S3, brigade executive officer, and most recently, brigade commander. Under his leadership, the 1st Brigade earned the prestigious McGuinn Cup, an annual award presented to GSDF’s most outstanding unit.
In 2005, Col. Bryant graduated from the Marine Corps Institute’s Amphibious Warfare School. In 2011, he was honor graduate of the GSDF Command and Staff Course.
Col. Bryant is a military emergency management specialist. His search and rescue achievements are numerous, and include his certification as a wilderness first responder and wilderness first aid instructor.
Col. Bryant is also a two-time recipient of the Georgia Commendation Medal. Other highlights of his service include:
• GSDF Search and Rescue (SAR) Executive Committee, member
• State Guard Association of the United States Executive Committee, member
• The Association of the Georgia State Defense Force Board of Directors, member, vice president
First commissioned as a second lieutenant in the infantry in 1984, Col. Peng served in multiple roles as an active duty officer. He has been a commander and during the latter part of his career, he conducted military courses as a service school instructor. He left active duty in 1989, pursuing work overseas. In 2000, Col. Peng moved to Atlanta. Looking for a way to serve, he joined the GSDF in 2003. In 2004, he joined the Cobb County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, eventually becoming its program manager.
In the GSDF, Col. Peng has served as Support Group S3, the 911th Support Brigade executive officer, the 911th Support Brigade commanding officer, the 76th Support Brigade executive officer, and ACoS G1.
His various awards include the Army Overseas Service Ribbon, the Georgia Commendation Medal, and the GSDF Distinguished Service Medal.
Change of Command
During the ceremony, Col. Peng thanked family, friends, and fellow GSDF Soldiers. He specifically commended the 1st Brigade for its service.
“The 1st Brigade has performed in an exemplary manner, leading the organization in many areas, such as search and rescue,” Col. Peng said. “My commitment … is to make sure you get the most out of your volunteerism, and that we work together to write the next chapter that builds upon the strength and the success already achieved.”
Col. Bryant and his family will move to Florida.
“1st Brigade, it has been my honor and a privilege,” Col. Bryant said in conclusion. “I salute you.”