ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - Soldiers and civilians of First Army welcomed their new commander in a ceremony on July 15 on Memorial Field here.

Lt. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty replaced Lt. Gen. Michael S. Tucker in a ceremony officiated by Gen. Robert Abrams, U.S. Army Forces Command commanding general.

Abrams noted that First Army was replacing one first-class leader with another.

"Lt. Gen. Tucker is recognized as one of the Army's premiere trainers. During his command, he oversaw the successful mobilization, training, deployment, and demobilization of more than 2,500 units, and more than 250,000 personnel," Abrams said. "And today we welcome another great Army family to the First Army team. Lt. Gen. Twitty is one of our most respected warfighters and trainers who has a wealth of operational experience at every echelon. I am convinced that he is the right leader to take the First Army team to higher levels of success."

Twitty addressed the Soldiers in formation before him, and talked about his excitement in leading them toward successful accomplishment of the mission.

"To the First Army Soldiers on the field, we play an important role in assisting the Army in meetings its readiness goals. We must not take our mission lightly and there is much work to be done," Twitty said. "I look forward to leading this organization as we accomplish our most vital mission of readiness for our Army and our nation. I look forward to being on the team. First in deed."

The man Twitty replaces said commanding First Army was the favorite of his many enjoyable assignments.

"I've had great jobs in the Army, but this truly was the best job I ever had," Tucker said. How great is it to spend time every day with Soldiers training in the field? I am so blessed."

Tucker also reflected on his long Army career. "I joined the Army when I was 17," he said. "And you know it's time to get out when you're guy cutting the Army birthday cake every time because you're the oldest one."

Tucker, who had served as First Army commander since August 2013, is retiring from the Army after 44 years and is mulling several civilian job offers.

Twitty, who most recently served as 1st Armored Division commander, joined the Army in 1985 after being a distinguished military graduate from South Carolina State University. He has served in leadership roles of increasing responsibility, including Forces Command deputy chief of staff for operations.

His awards and decorations include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Defense Superior Service Medal, Ranger Tab, Air Assault Badge, Parachutist Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, and Combat Infantryman Badge with Star.

He holds a master of science degree in public administration from Central Michigan University and a Master of Science in National Security Strategy from National Defense University.