VICKSBURG, Miss. -- U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Nicholas Oates, outgoing commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 412th Theater Engineer Command, relinquished command to Maj. Samuel Kicker in a change of command ceremony held Oct. 19 at the George A. Morris Army Reserve Center.

"The change of command is always a very rich tradition," said Brig. Gen. Miyako Schanely, deputy commander of the 412th TEC. "Not important just as a ceremony, but what it signifies in terms of the transition of leadership and the continuity of history of the unit."

"Any command is a challenge and it's always a very rich privilege to wear that mantle of command," said Schanely. "You lead Soldiers, you're responsible for their welfare, their training, their readiness; everything that makes a unit successful and effective in our Army."

Commanding the 412th TEC command headquarters can be particularly difficult due to experience and rank of Soldiers a junior officer or field grade officer leads.

"A command at any time is challenging, but particularly in an HHC," said Schanely. "It's filled with Soldiers who either out-rank you or have been in the Army decades longer than you and love to tell you how to do your job ... trying to be helpful, but certainly adding some challenge to the command for a young officer."

Oates, an Active Guard Reserve mobilization officer for the 412th TEC operations and readiness section, served as the interim HHC commander until an Army Reserve Soldier in the Troop Program Unit, such as Maj. Kicker, filled the position.

Oates was grateful to the 412th TEC Soldiers for their support and leadership from senior and junior leaders.

"I cannot thank you enough for what you've done to help me and I hope I have helped you," said Oates.

Oates' contribution as commander, while short, was acknowledged.

"Today we recognize Captain Oates for an outstanding job," said Schanely. "He stepped in during a very difficult time and served as interim HHC commander. Captain Oates did a fantastic job when we needed someone for this role; thank you so much for that and a job well done."

As the new HHC commander, Kicker, an intelligence officer, consequently had to leave his assignment with Deployable Command Post 2, a position he held since transitioning into the Army Reserve in 2009.

"We're also privileged today to welcome Major Kicker as the new HHC commander," said Schanely. "He's a seasoned leader and we're looking forward to all that he's going to accomplish in this command and making it ready for its next challenges, so to Major Kicker, welcome, congratulations and we look forward to your leadership."

Kicker noted his appreciation for the chance to show his mettle.

"I'd like to thank [Brigadier General] Schanely and [Major General] Thompson for giving me this opportunity to lead HHC," said Kicker. "It's a great honor for me to be standing before you as the HHC commander."

Looking out at the almost 120 Soldiers in formation, Kicker said the change in viewpoint was exceptional.

"Standing in your shoes, I've been to countless change of command ceremonies, but standing here, it's a new perspective and it's a very special moment for me," he said.
The incoming commander was joined by his family members: wife, Bonnie, their two children, Brennan and Jocelyn, and her parents, SuAnne Young, Mike Gallagher and Mary Gallagher, whom he acknowledged during his speech.

"To my family ... I'm very happy to share this moment with you. Without your support, I'm not going to be able to do this."

Kicker joked he recently received a fortune cookie at a local Chinese restaurant.

"I think it's a premonition of things to come," he said. "It reads 'A pleasant experience is ahead, don't pass it by.'"

In his final remarks, Kicker added, "In all seriousness, I look forward to working with each and every one of you and the challenges ahead. Build to Serve!"