JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Soldiers, families and friends gathered on a small field across from the 7th Infantry Division headquarters July 8 as Maj. Michael C. Firmin relinquished command of Headquarters Support Company, 7th Infantry Division to Capt. Jacqueline K. Stilwell.

"Black Widows" from HSC, as well as families, friends and senior leaders graced the field as Lt. Col. Joseph E. Hilbert, the division's deputy chief of staff, praised Firmin for what he accomplished in his time as the company's commander and talked about what Stilwell will accomplish in the days, weeks and months ahead of her as she assumes command.

The passing of the guidon symbolizes the change of command from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander. The first sergeant, 1st Sgt. Eugene Kuban, handed the colors to Firmin, symbolizing the trust and confidence the men and women of the unit have placed in him.

Firmin then handed the colors to Hilbert, officially relinquishing his responsibility for the command to the next higher headquarters.

As Hilbert, then, passed the colors to Stilwell, he now charged her with the command of the Black Widow company and its soldiers.

Stilwell returned the guidon to Kuban, officially accepting command of the company and the trust the soldiers place in their commander.

"It is a significant trust which cannot be broken if the unit is to bear the trials of combat, which challenge the greatest of soldiers," explained 1st Lt. Steven Hunter, HSC, 7th ID, executive officer.

Following the passing of the colors, Firmin said his last words to his soldiers and their families, thanking them for all they have done since he arrived to the unit in August 2012. He also had a few words for Stilwell.

"All former company commanders tend to be apprehensive about who they are turning their company over to," he explained. "After spending two weeks with you, while conducting our change over, I feel none of that apprehension. You have done nothing over the previous weeks but convince me that you are the perfect person for the job."

Although Firmin left the 7th Infantry Division, he will not be going far. Across Interstate 5 on Lewis Main, Firmin will serve as the executive officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, I Corps. Firmin twice deployed with I Corps, to Iraq from 2009 to 2010 and to Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012, before coming to the division.

Stilwell, like her predecessor, also came from another Joint Base Lewis-McChord unit: the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, where she served as the aviation maintenance company commander, 1st Battalion (Attack), 158th Aviation Regiment.

"My great-grandfather, Gen. Joseph 'Vinegar Joe' Stilwell, commanded 7th ID from 1940 to 1941, and I am both humbled and honored to serve in this command," Stilwell said.

Gen. Stilwell, then a major general, reactivated the 7th Division at Camp Ord, Calif., July 1, 1940. He was charged with organizing and training its soldiers in preparation for deployment in support of the defense of the nation.

"I know I have big shoes to fill, but I am up to the challenge," she said, adding that she will build on the successful processes already established by Firmin, as well as the accomplishments the company has made during the past year.

Before taking control of the formation from Kuban, Stilwell had one last thing to say to her soldiers, "Black Widows ... my promise to you is that I will give it my best every single day to continue making this company great in supporting the division's mission. I greatly look forward to the adventure that lays ahead and in serving with you. Bayonet!"

Stilwell is a native of Fairfax, Va., and a graduate of The U.S. Military Academy class of 2004. She has been selected by the Department of the Army for promotion to major.

Page last updated Thu July 11th, 2013 at 00:00