Incoming 249th Engineer Battalion - Prime Power commander, Lt. Col. Francis B. Pera, receives the unit colors from Maj. Gen. Anthony C. Funkhouser, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deputy commanding general, during a change of command ceremony Friday on Long Parade Field.

The 249th Engineer Battalion – Prime Power welcomed a new commander during a ceremony, Friday on Fort Belvoir’s Long Parade Field, as Lt. Col. Francis B. Pera assumed command from Lt. Col. Daniel R. Kent. 

Time-Honored Traditions  

 “The tradition of the change of command, as we know it, goes back to the time of the Roman legions where the passing of the commander’s baton occurred in front of the troops to signify the leader that would take them into battle,” said Maj. Gen. Anthony C. Funkhouser, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deputy commanding general, and presiding officer for the change of command, during his opening remarks. “The Continental Army … continued that tradition in the United States and we carry it on today, with our colors and standards to rally these Soldiers, these leaders, to provide a symbolic gesture with a tangible view of the command authority being transferred from one commander to the next. 

“Changes of command can be bittersweet,” Funkhouser continued. “We have to say goodbye to the current commander of the 249th—Colonel Dan Kent. 

“And we welcome Colonel Frank Pera, who will come in with new ideas and continue the journey to new and greater things. You’re all aware of Colonel Kent’s outstanding leadership and his ability to be everywhere, as this unit gets stretched out around the globe,” he said. 

Funkhouser added he’s been able to witness Kent’s leadership over the last two years and his transformation of the organization into an engine that drives the response to many of the Army’s most challenging requirements in the field and to our nation in response to natural disasters and emergencies.

Constant Challenges

“The 249th Prime Power Battalion and the Commandant Plant Power School is an eclectic command; there is no other command like it in the Army,” Funkhouser said. “It’s probably the most geographically dispersed command in the Army. 

“Frank (Pera) is a Black Lion alumnus and has a unique understanding of this unique organization,” Funkhouser said. “He’s had a very diverse career and I know this will contribute to his taking this unit to the next level. We look forward to working with you as you build upon the 249th Engineer Battalion’s contributions to the Army and this nation by delivering power generation around the world.”


Lt. Col. Francis B. Pera, incoming 249th Engineer Battalion - Prime Power commander, salutes as his Soldiers pass in review, at the end of a change of Friday at Long Parade Field.

Continuing the Legacy with Gratitude

“Thank you for having the confidence in me and affording me this great privilege of serving the best engineer unit in the United States Army,” Pera said. “The privilege of battalion command, in itself, is difficult to articulate. With a command and organization with a reputation that resonates Army-wide, that privilege is beyond measure. I’m extremely proud to be a part of this organization.

“As I look into the audience, I see individuals whose investment in me made this day possible—my mother, who taught me compassion; my wife, who taught me cooperation. I see my first platoon sergeant who taught me patience; my first first sergeant who taught me discipline; my battalion commander who taught me teamwork; and a visionary senior leader who taught me focus. For that, I’m grateful,” he said. “Last, but never least, to my wife, Hao, and my children, Natalie, Noah, Max, this journey will be difficult at best. I’d like to thank you in advance for the understanding and sacrifice that you will undoubtedly make along the way.”


“This is a unique, rewarding and challenging experience; it’s difficult to accurately describe how much I enjoyed the opportunity to lead this incredible organization, or how much I learned along the way. It’s been amazing,” Kent said. I’ve learned so much from each of you.”

The ceremony closed with Pera presiding over the pass in review.