WEST COVINA, Calif. -- In a ceremony at Galster Park Mar. 15, Capt. William G. Willis assumed command of the San Gabriel Valley (SGV) Recruiting Company from Maj. Patrick W. Caukin. Attended by community leaders, family, friends and the Soldiers of SGV Recruiting Company, the ceremony was set atop a shaded green knoll surrounded by eucalyptus trees and flowering bushes.

"It's a beautiful backdrop we have for this ceremony today to say farewell to Maj. Caukin and welcome Capt. Willis," said Lt. Col. J. Scott Peterson, commander, U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Los Angeles, who officiated the event.

The beauty of nature surrounding the event was in keeping with the tone of the remarks during the ceremony. From warm welcomes to the Willis family and heartfelt farewells to the Caukins and their 3-day-old daughter Ashley who was also in attendance, the ceremony demonstrated the family bonds within the company.

Caukin thanked battalion leadership and staff for all the support and guidance they provided during his tenure as commander. He also thanked the community leaders and veteran organizations in the audience for their assistance in identifying the next generation of Soldiers in the community.

"The next generation of Soldiers is so important because they are the ones who are going to fill our place when we move on … we cannot do it without your support," he said.

Caukin leaves command to attend the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in a few months. Peterson shared many accolades for Caukin's accomplishments while in command, attributing his leadership as the driving force for the company setting new standards across the battalion.

"Major Caukin has proven himself the consummate professional, always leading from the front and achieving every mission given him. … He really has done it all, and I'm proud to have the opportunity to have served with him," Peterson said.

With large boots to fill, Willis arrives at San Gabriel Valley Recruiting Company after serving as a company commander in 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson, S.C. A native of Albany, Vt., Willis enlisted in the Army June 28, 1995, as a Bradley systems maintainer. After rising to the rank of sergeant first class and completing his bachelor's degree in criminal justice, Willis earned a commission through Officer Candidate School in April 2008.

Caukin agreed with Peterson saying that after working with Willis for two months, the Army picked "by far" the right man to take command of the company. "Captain Willis is an incredibly diverse, talented and experienced officer. … I have no doubt that he will continue to build on the fantastic reputation this company enjoys," said Peterson.

Willis thanked Caukin for his invaluable guidance prepping him to be successful commanding the recruiting company. "Your dedication to this company and its mission has set the bar very high, and I hope to be able to maintain your level of work ethic," he said.

Page last updated Mon March 18th, 2013 at 00:00