By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterApril 25, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 25, 2013) -- The Fast and Furious 597th Maintenance Detachment of the 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group received a new commander April 19 during a ceremony at Bldg. 25105B at Knox Airfield.
CW3 Timothy C. Tripp took command from CW4 Steven M. Hess, who said that Tripp was taking over the best job the Army has to offer -- commanding the men and women of the 597th Maintenance Detachment.
"[Tripp], I wish you continued success. Command is always a privilege and an honor, and I have enjoyed my time as commander of this great unit," he said. "I am proud of all [that this unit has] accomplished."
Col. Michael L. Shenk, 164th TAOG commander, also remarked on the accolades of the small detachment and the privilege of being its commander.
"I am proud of this small, yet important detachment of Soldiers. This [position] is offered to very few highly qualified warrant officers across our Army. The 597th is a one-of-a-kind unit with an expansive mission," he said. "The Army counts on these Soldiers and their leaders to troubleshoot, repair and reset highly complex and critical air traffic services equipment."
The new detachment commander said that it was indeed a privilege to take command and that he was "truly honored."
"As a warrant officer, we don't get many chances or opportunities like this. I look forward to deployment, getting them ready to go and to just taking care of the Soldiers," he said.
Tripp has spent the last 30 days with the detachment getting used to daily business. He began his career at Fort Jackson, S.C., as a radio repairman and has taken part in five deployments since his enlistment in 1993.
Nine members of the unit are currently forward deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where they are performing air traffic support services, equipment repair and supply support.
In the last 18 months, the detachment has gone through several changes, according to the outgoing commander, who will be returning to Fort Hood, Texas.
"Nearly 18 months ago I took over as detachment commander in a historic event. Capt. Brad DeLoach cased the company colors as the last company commander of the 597th and I encased the detachment colors and took over as first detachment commander," said Hess during his outgoing speech.
Due to the restructuring of the detachment, the 597th has transitioned 24 Soldiers into new areas in their careers, he said.
"Even with the loss of personnel, our mission has never faltered. Soldiers have stepped up to the challenge of doing more with less," he added.
Some of the detachment's major accomplishments under Hess's command have been: the construction of four Tactical Terminal Control Systems, the repair and fabrication of the unit's own mockup 7A tactical tower into a fully functional system, four deployments and redeployments, and numerous deployment reset missions.
The Soldiers of the detachment have received numerous awards as well.
"Soldiers have been recognized as distinguished honor graduates, honor graduates, have made commandants lists and have even earned leadership awards. We have also had the NCO and Soldier of the year for the brigade last year," said Hess.
Tripp said that their achievements are proof that Soldiers can perform sustainment level maintenance.
"We will continue to have the challenge of ongoing deployments, training exercises and an assortment of unorthodox maintenance support requests. They will never be easy, but I know that each of you will rise to the occasion," he said.