FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- As the guidon leaves his hands, Col. Mike Musiol reflects on his 30 months as commander of the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, part of the 82nd Airborne Division.
"My goal was to command an Apache battalion, so the privilege of commanding a combat aviation brigade in the 82nd Abn. Div. and then taking them to Afghanistan was the greatest job I've had in the Army," said Musiol.
His journey leading up to commanding the 82nd CAB began over 20 years while serving at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
"When I was a cadet at West Point, I was unsure which branch to choose and exploring my options," said Musiol. "I thought aviation would be something different. My father told me, 'if you don't do it now, you may regret it down the road."
After completing his undergraduate studies at West Point and branched Aviation, Musiol departed for Fort Rucker, Alabama, to undergo aviation training on the apache airframe, where he met his wife, the former Leigh Ann Seigle.
"Leigh Ann and I met at Flight School in Fort Rucker," said Musiol. "She was studying to fly the CH-47 Chinook where I was going the path of the AH-64 Apache.
Once the two graduated Flight School, they were both assigned follow on assignments at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
"She was part of 18th Aviation Brigade as a platoon leader in a Chinook company that is now part of the 82nd CAB [as Bravo Company "Flippers", 3rd Battalion, 82nd CAB]," said Musiol. "I was assigned to 1st Battalion, 82nd Aviation Regiment as a platoon leader. We spent 4.5 years there flying our assigned aircraft."
Even though Musiol holds the highest position in the CAB, it was not the first time a member of his family commanded an aviation brigade in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
"Col. Bob Seigle, Leigh Ann's father commanded the 82nd Aviation Battalion from 1983-1985, said Musiol. "He took the unit to Grenada with the 82nd Airborne Division and then commanded the 18th AB during Panama and Operation Desert Shield/ Desert Storm."
Musiol sought Seigle's prior experience as an aviation commander to help him make his brigade an even more lethal fighting force.
"I learned a lot from listening and asking him questions," said Musiol. "We shared ideas and things he learned from his multiple deployments. One of the main things I took from him was the importance of aviation and the combat power it provides."
As this chapter closes for Musiol, he prepares for his next assignment, as he continues to serve with the 82nd Abn. Div.
"Once I change command with Col. Erik Gilbert, I go right to division headquarters as the Chief of Staff for rear detachment," said Musiol. "The division will have forces in Iraq, but there will be around 17,000 Paratroopers here at Bragg."
Wherever Musiol goes, he will always remember serving in multiple capacities from a young platoon leader to later becoming a brigade commander in the 82nd Abn Div.
"I think Fort Bragg, and in particular, the 82nd Abn. Div. is unique," said Musiol. "It always has to be prepared to provide a strategic hedge for combatant commanders with a responsive and agile force."
Musiol took this advice personally, leading from the front.
"Those rules applied to me as well, continued Musiol. " I took it upon myself to fly at least once a week. It not only adds credibility to the brigade commander to be out there flying, but it also gives me an opportunities to stay connected with our maintainers and aviators."
Even though Musiol has served for over 25 years, he has no plans of retiring as of yet.
"Someone told me a long time ago that you go for as long as you can for as long as you can," said Musiol. "Once you feel you are not contributing, then you probably need to call it a day. As long as I am needed in the 82nd ABN DIV to assist, I will keep going."
Musiol relinquished the brigade colors to Col. Erik Gilbert, during a change of command ceremony on Fort Bragg, N.C., June 16, 2015. Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. William Yeargan also relinquished his responsibility in a ceremony of the brigade to Command Sgt. Maj. William Elliott.