By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJuly 7, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 7, 2016) -- Soldiers, family members and friends came together to welcome a new commander to the Air Traffic Services Command and 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group while bidding farewell to the outgoing commander.
Col. Michael E. Demirjian, ATSCOM and 164th TAOG commander, assumed command of both units from Col. Douglas Van Weelden III during a ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum June 28.
Lt. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue II, U.S. Army Forces Command deputy commanding general, presided over the ceremony to bid farewell to Van Weelden as he welcomed the new commander and provide his full vote of confidence in Demirjian's leadership.
"Bringing a new commander is always a good thing for a unit because it brings in fresh ideas, and it's good to bring in that new commander for that innovation that comes along with it," he said during the ceremony. "Mike is a proven leader of exceptional capability and is ready to assume the responsibilities of these organizations. He brings with him a wealth of experience … and we're lucky to have him."
Demirjian returns to Fort Rucker from his most recent assignment as the Army Coordination Group chief of staff in Washington, D.C., and has served in numerous leadership positions throughout his career.
After joining the Army in 1989 and completing Warrant Officer Candidate School and Rotary Wing Flight Training, he served as an AH-1 and OH-58 pilot in command and unit trainer in Fort Carson, Colorado, and Camp Page, Korea.
He's also served across numerous Army installations across the U.S. and the world, and has held a number of command positions -- platoon leader, squadron commander and chief of plans.
Demirjian has also deployed in service to the nation multiple times in support of Operation Joint Endeavor and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Van Weelden also expressed his confidence in the new commander and said that although change can oftentimes be disruptive and even scary, it's one thing that is necessary to move our Army forward.
"Leadership provides the firm (foundation) to take us successfully into the future, and thankfully we've been blessed in these two organizations with the incredible leadership and talent in Colonel Mike Demirjian and his family," said the outgoing commander. "As I have come to know Colonel Demirjian in recent months, it's apparent that he's a proven leader and the right officer to take these organizations forward."
Demirjian conveyed his gratitude to his family and leaders throughout his career, and said he was humbled to take command.
"Its hard to believe that 26 years ago I was sitting here in the same general area as a WO-1 about to have my wings pinned on, and at that time, I never thought I'd be sitting here taking command at the O-6 level," said the incoming commander. "To the Soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers of the 164th and ATSCOM, I'm humbled that the Army would allow me to serve you. I look forward to being a member of this team and focusing our efforts to ensure we are ready for the call."