By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterApril 27, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The 1st Battalion, 58th Aviation Regiment (Airfield Operations) "Guardian Eagles" welcomed a new commander and bid farewell to the outgoing leader during a ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum April 19.
Lt. Col. Beau Tibbitts assumed command from Lt. Col. James Ashburn during the change of command ceremony as the unit colors changed hands from Ashburn to Col. Michael E. Demirjian, Air Traffic Services Command and 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group commander, to Tibbitts.
Demirjian welcomed Tibbitts, who served as the 1st Aviation Brigade S3, back to Fort Rucker and expressed his full confidence in his leadership after taking command.
"I know you're up for the unique challenge that is AOB," he said to the incoming commander. "It takes a special leader to train the readiness of this organization -- I know you're ready."
Tibbitts returns to Fort Rucker from his most recent assignment as the Force Requirements Branch chief, G5 Plans Division with 1st Army Headquarters at Rock Island Arsenal in Rock Island, Illinois.
His Army career began in 1998 after graduating and being commissioned from the Ripon College Reserve Officer Training Corps, and he graduated from flight school in 1999 as an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior pilot.
Tibbitts has served in multitude of assignments across the U.S. and the world, and has been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq in 2004 and 2009, respectively.
He's held multiple leadership positions throughout his career, from brigade Aviation officer for the 1-25th Stryker Brigade Combat Team to doctrine branch chief for the Directorate of Training and Doctrine.
"I'm very humbled and honored to command this great organization," said the incoming commander. "Diana and I are excited to be back at Fort Rucker and proud to be part of the 164th and 1-58th -- thank you for this opportunity. It's my honor to be a part of this team."
That team was first constituted in 1968 and has seen numerous deployments from Vietnam to Iraq. It has been reorganized and re-designated, but throughout remains to support the Army mission, something Ashburn said he witnessed firsthand during his time as commander.
"Thank you for your support and efforts to make this company-sized unit feel like a battalion. We always asked a lot of you and you always performed amazingly," said Ashburn to the unit Soldiers. "It seems like just yesterday I was standing right here at this podium getting ready to join you in your ranks to get down to business.
"Two days later, you took me out to the field for a two-week exercise," he continued. "We dodged tornadoes, we fought the cold, we fought the heat and we fought the notorious [lower Alabama] mosquitos through multiple [force training exercises]. Why did we do all that? Because we can never be too great. Push yourselves harder and be the best you can every day -- I encourage you to continue to do that."