Thunderbolt soldiers say goodbye to outgoing commander
July 18, 2013
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Soldiers with 17th Fires Brigade joined together to say goodbye to Col. Ken Kamper, the outgoing brigade commander, and welcome Col. Timothy Kehoe, the incoming brigade commander, during a change of command ceremony at Watkins Field, July 15.
While the ceremony is traditionally about the change in leadership, Kamper saw it as one last chance to recognize his soldiers.
"The day isn't really about the two of us," Kamper said.
During his command of the 17th Fires Brigade, Kamper strived to recognize his soldiers, saying many times at different events that he was honored to be on their team.
"I am proud of this team, not for just what they've done, but why they did it," Kamper said at the ceremony.
He echoed that sentiment, saying the soldiers had a sense of purpose: every one of them contributed to the success of the brigade and helped progress the unit because they knew how to be a team.
Kamper went on to recognize his soldiers as not just teammates, but individuals.
He quoted former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Creighton W. Abrams Jr., saying, "People are not in the Army, people are the Army."
"You matter. Your dreams, goals and aspirations are important ... thanks for who you are as individuals ... and as a team of teams," Kamper told the soldiers in formation.
His voice was loud and confident, but wavered with the emotions that accompany leaving a group that one truly believes in. Kamper publicly announced his success as a leader was not his own, but belonged to all the soldiers and community members that come together to make good things happen.
The ceremony was chock-full of special guests, like South Sound community leaders and veterans of foreign wars. Kamper recognized the importance of being connected with the communities surrounding Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and rarely missed an opportunity to participate in community events.
Kehoe, a former battalion commander within 17th Fires Brigade, showed enthusiasm at being part of the Thunderbolt team once again.
"It is with great pleasure that I return to the 17th Fires Brigade," Kehoe said during his speech. "I look forward to what the future holds for this magnificent unit."
Kamper said he was confident Kehoe is the right leader to take charge of the brigade, and expressed his feelings that the future looks bright for the Thunderbolt brigade.
Kehoe came from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, where he served as the deputy commanding officer. Kamper is going to the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania.