FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 7, 2013) -- The passing of a unit's color from one officer to another is a symbolic military tradition that is carried out during a transition between incoming and outgoing commanders.

May 29, a unit that produces some of the best leaders the Army possesses executed that tradition as Lt. Col. Marcus A. Gengler assumed command of the 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment from Lt. Col. James E. Ward during a change of command ceremony at Howze Parade Field.

Col. Brian D. Bennett, commander of 1st Aviation Brigade, hosted the event. He praised Ward for his work as the Old Warrior Battalion commander and thanked him for "leading from the front."

"(Ward) was consistently and relentlessly focused on growing future leaders and configured his organization to best meet the mentoring goals, providing the best leadership experience for our future Army Aviators," said Bennett.

Ward's mission while serving as a battalion commander included managing more than 2,000 flight students and overseeing Army Aviation's Captains' Career Course and Basic Officer Leadership Course.

Ward thanked the commanders, cadre and students for their efforts and professionalism.

"Like the previous assignments I've enjoyed, the success of this organization had little to do with me," said Ward. "It was more a statement about the efforts, energy and expertise of all the Old Warriors I've had the honor to serve with."

Ward will move to Kansas where he will serve as the deputy brigade commander of Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley.

A graduate of the ROTC program at Brigham Young University, Gengler was commissioned in as an Aviation officer in 1995. Most recently, he served the Experimentation Chairman in the Air Maneuver Battle Lab on Fort Rucker.

Gengler said in his remarks that he will do his best to uphold the high standard set by Ward.

"As we enter into a transformative period in our Army, the emphasis on providing world-class leadership training has never been greater," said Gengler. "I look forward to the unique challenges that this mission brings and will do my very best to train a generation of Army Aviation warriors that will lead this Branch with honor and distinction wherever they may be called to serve."