By Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey SmithJune 30, 2014
JOINT ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska - Paratroopers from three separate companies of the 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, welcomed new commanders here in a rare, triple change of command ceremony June 26, 2014.
In the old days, units used colored flags to indicate a commander's location on the battlefield. Today, this tradition is honored and remembered with the prominence and significance of unit guidons. When units receive new commanders during a change of command ceremony, the guidon is featured as a symbolic and formal transfer of unit command authority as it is passed from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander.
The passing of the guidon begins with the company's first sergeant handing it over to the outgoing commander. As the outgoing commander takes ahold of the guidon, it signifies the last time it will be next to his or her heart. The outgoing commander then passes the guidon to the battalion commander, thereby relinquishing authority while transferring the legacy, achievements, and history of the unit. The battalion commander, in turn, passes the unit guidon to the incoming commander with expectations of continued unit accomplishment while transferring command authority to the new commander.
Today, the guidon remains an indication of the commander's presence and serves as a distinctive symbol of the unit.
The 425th BSTB triple change of command ceremony featured paratroopers from all three companies standing at attention in a formal ceremonial formation.
First up was Hammer Company. The Warrior Battalion's commander, Lt. Col. Kevin Perera, swiftly walked to the front of Hammer Company's formation, took his position, and formally transferred the company's command authority from the outgoing commander, Capt. Charles M. Ouellette, to the incoming commander, Capt. Jonathan A. Braeckel.
Sapper Company was next. Perera took his place, and the outgoing commander, Capt. Ronald N. Thenn, passed his company's guidon over to the Warrior Battalion commander, who then, passed it, and the command authority of Sapper Company, to the incoming commander, Capt. Russell M. Streif.
Lastly, Hydra Company received its new commander as the passing of the guidon and command authority transferred from the outgoing commander, Capt. Michael R. Johnson Jr., to the incoming commander, Capt. Daniel W. Loeffler.
Perera noted the rarity of the triple change of command ceremony.
"In my 26 years of service, I have never seen a triple change of command," Perera said.
The Warrior Battalion's outgoing commanders will experience career-broadening opportunities at their next assignments, while holding true to the battalion's motto, "Duco Undique," meaning, "influence everywhere."
Johnson and Thenn are slotted to teach at their respective branches' Centers of Excellence, while Ouellette has been tapped to teach cadets at The U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
The triple change of command ceremony culminated with a traditional pass in review, with paratroopers from each company marching past the battalion commander, rendering honors, and heading back to work.