FORT RILEY, Kan. -- The Soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division opened a new chapter in the "Big Red One's" history book May 22 as command of the famed "Fighting First" was transferred between two Army officers whose Families have been serving the nation for nearly a century.

During a ceremony filled with traditions dating back to the Roman Empire, Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II accepted command of the Army's oldest division from Maj. Gen. William C. Mayville, Jr.

"These Families have an impressive history of commitment to our nation that spans generations," Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown, I Corps commanding general, said during the ceremony.

Funk, who joined the Big Red One as the deputy commanding general for maneuver in August 2011 and deployed with the division to Afghanistan, expressed his excitement about the opportunity to continue to serve alongside "the brave men and women" of the nation's first division. Funk emphasized his commitment to the mission of the division and to the teamwork that is the foundation of everything the 1st Inf. Div. does.

"Embrace the privilege of being a Big Red One Soldier," Funk said as he addressed the division formation spread out across the historic post's Cavalry Parade Field. "Demonstrate that you are brave, responsible and on-point during every engagement."

Calling Funk a "proven combat leader," Brown said the new commanding general's commitment to "building great teams" makes Funk a great fit for the Big Red One.

"As the new commander of the 1st Infantry Division, Paul will continue to usher in this new chapter in the division's rich history," the ceremony's senior reviewing officer said.

Mayville, who took command of the division in May 2011, oversaw the Big Red One's reset following a deployment to Iraq as well as a deployment to Afghanistan where the division headquarters directed operations in Regional Command-East. Credited with strengthening partnerships throughout the Flint Hills as well as in Afghanistan, Mayville expressed his gratitude for the men and women of the 1st Inf. Div. who "are willing to step out into the dark and unknown for the safety and well-being" of America.

"Over the past two years, I have seen first-hand the accomplishments of this incredible division," he said. "I have been a witness to the things that make this division great. I have seen and been privileged to be part of the best division in our Army."

Mayville will now travel to Washington, D.C., where the former Big Red One commander will serve as the assistant deputy chief of staff for U.S. Army operations and plans.