By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterJuly 7, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 7, 2014) -- A centuries-old tradition was carried out on Howze Field in a change of command and responsibility ceremony for the Squared Away unit June 25.
Lt. Col. John Tucker assumed command from Lt. Col. Robert Keeter by the ceremonial passing of the unit colors for 1st Battalion, 11th Aviation Regiment.
Command Sgt. Maj. Morris Anderson also assumed responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Paul McGrew.
In his remarks, Col. Jayson Altieri, 110th Aviation Brigade commander, welcomed Tucker and Anderson to the Fort Rucker team.
"As fortunate as the battalion was to have (Keeter) as the leader these past few years, they are just as lucky to have (Tucker) and (Anderson) now taking the controls," he said. "They are no strangers to (U.S Army Aviation Center of Excellence) and 110th Aviation Brigade as they both bring a wealth of leadership, tactical knowledge and experience to this organization. I know the battalion is in good hands."
The colonel commended Keeter and McGrew for their dedication to duty and mission during their time as the senior leaders for the unit.
"They have provided calm, steady leadership critical to running this important Aviation operation," he said. "Their teaming has been a cornerstone for the success of USSACE and allowed the Fort Rucker team to train the best combat Aviators in the world ready to support the Army's global expeditionary mission."
Altieri then called attention to the fact that as the ceremony was being conducted, 1-11th Soldiers were providing air traffic control services to more than 100 aircraft in the 83,000 square kilometers of airspace over Fort Rucker and the surrounding communities.
Finishing his remarks, Altieri said that he wishes the best for Keeter and McGrew.
"Keeter is a confident, passionate, mission-focused and selfless leader. The confidence he placed on his team allowed the 1-11th officers, Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians to operate one Army stagefield, four Army heliports, one civilian airfield, and 14 stagefields safely and effectively," he concluded.
The incoming commander said he appreciated all the help he's received from Keeter in making a smooth transition, adding that the outgoing commander had been extremely gracious and fully transparent.
"To all the Soldiers, (Anderson) and I are looking forward to serving with you," he began, saying they both are eager for the challenge. "During our watch, you will also be challenged to hone your own craft as you train to become the world's best air traffic control experts."
Tucker continued by saying that the opportunity to command occurred because of all the leaders who coached, developed and mentored him over the past 22 years.
Tucker has been stationed at Fort Rucker since 2008, minus a one-year deployment to Afghanistan in 2010, and said that it is awesome that he is taking command.
"It is a great feeling, and I never thought I would ever have this opportunity. I am very humbled," he said. "I am looking forward to serving our Soldiers. I just want the Soldiers to be the best air traffic controllers they possibly can, and that is my challenge -- to provide that training to make them better."