Last week Danielle and I successfully completed 27 months of serving the Soldiers and Families of C/2-227 AVN REGT as their Commander. Passing the guidon to CPT(P) Dan Jones signaled the end to one of the most rewarding and challenging seasons of my military career.
Dan Jones and his wife Rosemary are an amazing couple who will care for the Company Soldiers and Families and serve them faithfully. The Company is in excellent hands for the next chapter of its storied history. Below is my change of command speech. Thanks to all who attended, supported us from a distance, encouraged, and stood arm-in-arm with us through this awesome season!
COL Drennon, LTC Eberhardt, CSM Chapman, CSM Nutter, distinguished guests, friends, and the troopers and families of C Co, thank you for being here.
Although I know COL Baker could not be here, I would be remiss if I did not thank him and a few other leaders. COL Baker, COL Thompson, COL Waters, LTC Eberhardt, LTC Steele, & LTC Asborno, I was honored to have the opportunity to serve under your leadership. Thank you for your coaching and mentorship throughout various seasons of this command.
I stood in this hangar 27 months ago and cast the vision for this company with great hope and expectation, “Before you today I see a company who is unified in their commitment to the authenticity, credibility and quality
of its heart. A company who dares to be themselves, yet lives secure in the knowledge that what they are part of is bigger than the part they play. ”
We set out to be RELENTLESS, to have an attitude or posture that is resolute, persistent, and unyielding in all we do. We set out to have a solid work-life balance while relentlessly pursuing the hearts of our families and
pursuing excellence in discipline, training, and unity at work. Witchdoctor DUSTOFF….Thank you for your relentless effort.
This Company has collectively completed 10 Combat Training Center rotations, deployed to EUCOM in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, nearly deployed to AFRICOM in the fight against Ebola, supported DCRF and DSCA, countless Air Mission Requests to almost every ground unit on post and many on other installations, divested 13 x UH-60A+ and acquired 15 x HH-60M. We conducted real world MEDEVAC support in Dahlonega, GA, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, and Poland and training in many other countries, and most recently at Fort Hood, TX in support of the search and rescue team…Charlie Company… You did all that… to Save a Life. You make the mission happen every day and you do it for our Army’s most important resource: the Soldier.
Thank you for your professionalism, devotion to serve, and the sacrifice you and your families make on a daily basis for the good of our unit, Army and country. As you progress in the military or move on to other endeavors, I encourage you to measure success by the lives you invest in and the legacy you leave behind in each chapter of your career. Businessman Henry Gruland said, “Being a leader is more than just wanting to lead. Leaders have empathy for others and a keen ability to find the best in people and a responsibility to believe the best, not the worst by truly caring for others.”
1SG Ocon, thank you for being relentless and challenging me for the greater good. Your true care for the Soldier is contagious. You performed as my 1SG long before you ever had the title and I thank you for the support, advice, trust, and commitment. I cannot wait to see what’s next for you and Maria and I know you will give CPT(P) Jones the same relentless commitment you gave me.
If there is anyone that knows how to believe the best, it is my bride, Danielle. She didn’t know what to expect as the FRG leader, a newlywed, and a commander’s wife all in the first year of marriage. Not having much exposure to the military prior to our marriage, she went in with eyes wide open… COL Thompson was talking to her after the ceremony and Danielle and I had yet to go over the Army rank structure so I wanted to ensure she knew this was my boss’s boss. She later told me she was glad I came over when I did, because was actually about to ask him, “So how long have you been in Charlie Company?” ……You know, although she may not have known at the time that the Soldier she was talking to was actually my boss’s boss, rest assured…… she knows now.
More importantly, what she did know was how to love people. From day one she cared for every family member and Soldier deeply. She cared for the spouses, the troopers,
and their children relentlessly. She was instrumental to our success. While we were deployed to EUCOM, she managed to balance a full time job and full time ministry at our church in Georgetown, while being pregnant, then raising a beautiful daughter, and continuing to invest in the families of this company. Danielle, thank you for your support and for everything you did. Thank you for being a sounding board and a teammate. There is no one else whom I would’ve wanted to walk this journey…there is no one else with whom I could’ve walked this journey. Thank you for being relentless to lead and serving well. Our success is largely due to you and I’m so grateful to call you my teammate and best friend.
Thanks to Beth, Yolanda, Bob, June and the rest of our Celebration Church family for walking beside her through quite possibly the toughest season she’s ever walked.
Dan and Rosemary, Danielle and I could not be more proud to hand off the company to you. In the past month and a half we’ve spent time getting to know you both while building a friendship and we know your heart is for the Soldier. We cannot wait to see the next chapter for this company under your leadership. Not to mention this Company now has the DUSTOFF Aviator of the Year in CPT Jones AND the DUSTOFF two-time flight medic of the year in 1SG Ocon. WHAT?! If that isn’t the dynamic duo I don’t know what is! All kidding aside, Dan your humble nature and passion is palpable and I wish you the best in your command.
Mom and Dad, thank you for making time to be here… I’m grateful to be your son and Dad…thanks
for being a Godly father figure to model at home and at work. Thanks for being an example worth following.
Thanks to the ACB, my fellow iron majors past and present, fellow commanders, friends,
and the Lobo and Brigade Staff. Your support and effort made it this successful command possible. To my brother from another mother…MAJ Conrad…thanks for being a sounding board and fighting the good fight…Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another,” and through the past 27 months, you’ve done just that for me. For that I am forever grateful for your friendship.
Vince Lombardi, former head coach of the Green Bay Packers. “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”
My faith in God was the compass that provided the endurance, drive, and commitment to serve and finish well. But know this…the greatest battles won during command were not won during deployment, open door sessions, command and staff or training meetings. Rather, they were won in prayer for you, your families, and for the battalion and brigade leadership.
With that, I close today with great confidence and pride saying, “Before you today I see a company who is unified in their commitment to the authenticity, credibility and quality of its heart. A company who dares to be themselves, yet lives secure in the knowledge that what they are part of is bigger than the part they play. We ARE Relentless, Unified, Trained, and Disciplined – a mentally tough and adaptive team of professionals devoted to serving Soldiers, Families, and the community. We will always safely complete the mission with relentless pursuit – Anywhere. Anytime.
This company, battalion, and brigade is one team I will never forget. Thank you for allowing me the honor of being your Commander. To Save a Life! DUSTOFF! Lobos! Air Cav! Witchdoctor 6 signing out.
all photos courtesy of Christina Smith Photography http://www.christinasmithphoto.com
The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.
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