By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterMay 12, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment welcomed a new commander while bidding farewell to their former commander during a change of command ceremony on Howze Field May 5.
Lt. Col. Cal C. Nix assumed command from Lt. Col. Ross F. Nelson as the unit colors passed from the outgoing commander to Col. Kelly E. Hines, 110th Aviation Brigade commander, to the new commander.
Hines spoke during the ceremony of the achievements of the battalion and the importance leadership plays in the unit's success.
"I commanded a battalion in [U.S. Army Forces Command], and I've got to tell you, the 1-212th daily mission is far more complex and its success or failure has far more strategic impact than any assault battalion in the Army," said the brigade commander. "When I found out [Nelson] was going to be commanding the 1-212th [two years ago] while I commanded the 110th, I couldn't have been more pleased.
"Losing a great command team is always a hard pill to swallow, but as always the Army has got it right with the next team," he continued. "To Cal Nix and his wife, Joycelyn, I know you're both ready for this, and I know you're very excited and you're going to do great. I know you're going take the 1-212th to even greater heights, so welcome aboard."
Nix returns to Fort Rucker from his most recent assignment as the senior Aviation adviser for the Office of the Program Manager Saudi Arabian National Guard in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He enlisted in the Army in 1993 and has served throughout the U.S. and all over the world from Seoul, South Korea, to Iraq.
He's held multiple leadership positions ranging from platoon leader, company commander, and brigade and battalion operations officer across multiple continents, and said he hopes to bring his wealth of knowledge to his newest assignment.
"I truly appreciate and am humbled by the opportunity to be the next battalion commander for the 1-212th. We could not have received a warmer welcome," he said during the ceremony. "We will try our best to continue the great things that [Nelson and his wife, Jennifer] have put in place in the battalion."
The 1-212th operates Lowe and Shell Army Heliports, which are the two busiest heliports in the Army. The battalion's mission is to train initial rotary wing students in what Hines said, "everything Black Hawks."
"The 1-212th's job never stops -- they create the best Black Hawk Aviators in the world," said the brigade commander. "Nearly every Black Hawk pilot has been trained by this battalion at some point in their career. Additionally, the standardization instructors that train the Hawk crews in the back have also been trained by the 1-212th.
"The Black Hawk has the most diverse mission of all of our platforms. It connects air movement, air assault, MedEvac, VIP support, resupply -- you name it, they do it. It's a high-demand aircraft, and just about every Soldier on the battlefield has been directly supported by the UH-60 at some point," he said. "With that kind of impact, it's no surprise that the Army picks the very best to be the battalion commander."
"In the past two years, the men and women [of this battalion] have safely flown over 165,000 flight hours … while training over 5,000 Aviators," added Nelson. "They truly are a collection of the finest men and women this country has ever seen. Cal and Joycelyn, I couldn't be happier to be leaving the Wings of Freedom team in your care. I know you will succeed in leading this amazing battalion to new and even higher heights."