Flatiron welcomes new commander
December 20, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (December 20, 2012) -- Flatiron welcomed its new commander as Maj. Joseph C. Alexander took command of Air Ambulance Detachment, 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment from Lt. Col. Charles C. Cook during a ceremony Dec. 13 at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.
Alexander was welcomed to the Spartan team and to Flatiron by Lt. Col. Demetrios J. Nicholson, 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment, battalion commander, who said that he was looking forward to working with him.
"We are excited to have you on board. I have no doubt that you will do a superb job in leading Flatiron," he said.
Alexander was raised in Michigan and was commissioned as a medical service corps officer from Central Michigan University in 2000. He attended flight school at Fort Rucker -- after his first assignment in Korea -- earning him his wings from the Army Initial Entry Rotary Wing Course in 2002.
After graduation, he served in Germany and Iraq for more than 5 years. Later, he was selected to command the U.S. Army Air Ambulance Detachment in Soto Cano Air base, Honduras, which provided medical evacuation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support thought Central America.
Alexander holds a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration and a master's in business administration with a concentration in supply chain management and strategic leadership.
His military awards include a Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Alexander has been doing medical evacuation for about 10 years, and he said he looks forward to serving the Spartans and Flatiron.
"You're America's finest; you show true professionalism. I have been nothing but impressed with your constant mission focus. I am humbled to work with [you] and I look forward to continuing the outstanding tradition of aeromedical evacuation support you provide daily," he said.
According to the new commander, he replaced Cook as the medical evacuation executive officer in western Iraq six years ago.
"Who would have thought that I would now, again, be replacing [him] as commander of this exceptional unit," he said, adding that he wishes to continue the units outstanding, daily-basis performance.
Being back in the area where he learned how to fly and commanding a unit here is very humbling, said Alexander.
"To be back here and assume this command in the same place where I pinned on my wings and graduated the Captains Career Course is amazing. The personal history that I have here at Fort Rucker, and to integrate that with the history of Flatiron and its outstanding mission is very humbling to me," he said.
Cook said no one works as hard or is more dedicated to the mission than the medics, firefighters and Aviators at Flatiron, requiring a special leader to keep up the high demands of the company.
"They train to be the best because others rely on them to do so. So, [Alexander], be sure to keep very sharp on all of your processes. If you keep a safe program, it will be one to be proud of. If it takes an extra minute or two to get off the ground safely then it is worth it," said Cook.
The new commander also received good luck wishes from Nicholson.
"You are lucky because you are taking hold of a tremendous company that thrives under the pressure of their no-fail mission," he said.
Flatiron is the call sign for the Army Air Ambulance Detachment of 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment. The mission of Flatiron is to provide crash rescue support and aeromedical evacuation to the Aviation Center of Excellence and 5th Ranger Training Battalion.
Reflecting on Flatiron's high visibility in the community, Cook told the audience that he enjoyed the opportunity to command the unique unit and appreciated the trust that was placed on him.
"You get to do things in this unit that you don't get to do anywhere else, such as support the local community. I know we've touched a lot of lives in lower Alabama," he said, adding that he knows Alexander will continue the good work the unit is accomplishing.
According to the unit, Flatiron has run 365 days a year, 24/7 since the mid 60s, when the Aviation Center commander required a safety change. A crash-rescue aircraft had to always be in the air, ready for a mission. Because of this demanding requirement, the name Flatiron was created. As one aircraft landed to re-fuel, another launched-- much like the flat irons used by early settlers when one was heated while the other was used.
Flatiron, also according to the unit, services the civilian community with the Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic missions and the Defense Support to Civilian Authorities program. It utilizes the UH-72A "Lakota" in its flight missions to ensure immediate MEDEVAC assistance to military and civilian personnel.