159th CAB changes hands
May 23, 2012
The outgoing commander of 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, for the past 26 months set the standard in training his Soldiers and leading them through a successful deployment, but more importantly, bringing them back home to their Families.
Col. Todd Royar moved on from Thunder Brigade to attend the Naval War College and passed the colors to Col. Jimmy F. Blackmon, who is a former Thunder Soldier, during a change of command ceremony here May 23.
"I am deeply humbled to be able to lead this Thunder team, and I fully recognize that I have been blessed well beyond that which I deserve," said Blackmon. "Command is always a privilege; command in the time of war is a distinct honor…"
With pride in his voice, Royar spoke to the audience gathered at the Division Parade Field about the missions and accomplishments of the Thunder brigade during Operation Enduring Freedom 11-12.
"Any success of the brigade belongs to the Soldiers you see standing in front of you today," Royar said. "It is their hard work and their dedication over the past couple of years that have made the unit successful."
Blackmon who served with the 159th from 2008 -- 2010 echoed Royar's thoughts.
"These Soldiers on the field today put it all on the line for an idea that someone has to pay the price for freedom, so they stepped forward," Blackmon said. "They fully understand the implications of military service in an era of persistent conflict, and we now confront yet another imperative -- this one from our commanding general -- to be trained, disciplined, and fit to prepare for our next Rendezvous with Destiny, and I am honored to lead that effort."
Speaking at the ceremony was Maj. Gen. James C. McConville, the commander of the 101st Airborne Division. He said Royar did an exceptional job with his command while deployed achieving significant accomplishments resulting in praise from Maj. Gen. Jim Huggins, the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, but now it is time for Royar to hand over the reins for another deserving commander to continue the great legacy of the Thunder Brigade.
"As Thunder farewells one great commander, they welcome another great commander into their ranks," said McConville. "Jimmy is a proven combat leader within this division with multiple deployments. I have complete confidence in your ability to take the guidon today. You are the right person at the right time to build upon this legacy of this historic brigade and take it to the next level. Provide a highly-trained disciplined, fit force that will fight and win on this next Rendezvous with Destiny."