1-145th welcomes new commander
June 24, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Hundreds of Soldiers and employees of the 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment “Old Warriors” welcomed a new commander June 17.
Lt. Col. James E. Ward assumed command from Lt. Col. Mikael R. Ash during a change of command ceremony at Fort Rucker’s Howze Field.
Ward comes to Fort Rucker after an assignment as an operational analyst with the Joint Center for Operational Analysis, Joint Forces command in Suffolk, Va. He is a rated Aviator in the UH-1 Huey and OH-58 Kiowa helicopters.
Col. Kenneth J. Biland, 1st Aviation Brigade commander who hosted the ceremony, said the right man was chosen to replace Ash, who is retiring.
“Jim, the Army could not have picked a better qualified officer,” he said. “With your diverse background, challenging assignments and experience, you are clearly prepared for this command. I challenge you to build upon the successes Mike and his team have achieved, and take the Old Warriors Battalion to even greater heights as you march ahead.”
Ward, assigned to Fort Rucker for the first time since 1997, said he is up to the challenge.
“I’m very excited and humbled to be given the honor to command this tremendous unit,” he said. “I look forward to working with all of you. This is a great opportunity and a great honor to be able to shape the future leaders of Aviation, the warrant officers corps and Aviator pilots for this generation and the next during this period of persistent conflict. There are big challenges ahead of us. I’m very excited to get this opportunity.”
Besides welcoming Ward and his Family to the brigade team, Biland also thanked Ash and his Family for their hard work and dedication during the two years Ash commanded the unit.
“You have served as a role model for the thousands of future leaders that you have helped train and educated for combat, both at the initial entry and graduate levels,” he said. “You have expertly led the largest and most diverse battalion in the Army while achieving no less than the highest measure of success. You forged a cohesive team, and created an environment that proudly produced the best Aviation warfighting Soldiers and leaders in the world.”
He also praised Ash for the unit’s outstanding work in improving safety, its great retention record, and for going above and beyond in its community service.
“No one could’ve brought this battalion through this turbulent time better than their Old Warriors commander, Mike Ash,” Biland added. “Mike, I could’ve not asked for a more dedicated professional. I am honored and proud to have served with you. Good luck and Godspeed, it has truly been a pleasure serving with you.”
Ash said he is proud of the work he and the Old Warriors did while he was in command, but refused to quote statistics.
“Only one number matters to me and that number cannot be calculated,” he said. “It’s the number of people the unit and cadre before you have touched, whether it was in (one of the schools the unit operates) or through a community project in Dothan tutoring students on weekend. Every civilian, Soldier, NCO, officer and warrant officer I have worked with have had a lasting impact on me " mostly positive, some negative. And I owe all of you a debt that cannot be repaid. Any success that I get to claim is due to all of you. “
Ash also thanked his wife, Lt. Col. Jennifer Ash.
“Being one half of a dual-military Family is not easy. It takes an extraordinary commitment and an extreme love to do this for 20 years. You’re my best friend,” he said. “And Colton and Jadyn, I promise not to be so grumpy when I come home.
“I’ve been pleased to work with an outstanding bunch of Soldiers over the past 25 months - I can pay you no higher compliment than this: Kids, we’re going to Disneyworld. Old Warriors 6 out,” he said.