On Sunday, the 301st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB) held a change of command ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
Col. William R. Morgan Jr. relinquished his command to Col. Michael D. Lewis, a signal officer based in Auburn, California.
Morgan had previously served as the deputy chief of staff, G1, for the 412th Theater Engineer Command in Shelby, Mississippi before taking command of the 301st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade two years ago.
He is also a program analyst at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"What a tremendous opportunity and honor it has been to serve as the commander of this great unit," Morgan said at the ceremony.
"We're not just a unit, we're a family!" he added. "This brigade does not know how to fail."
Pro Patria Vigilans!
Lewis had originally enlisted into the infantry in the Texas Army National Guard before receiving his commission and transferring into the Signal Corps.
An information technology manger and professional in his civilian life, Lewis has most recently served as the deputy G3 for the 335th Signal Command in Afghanistan and Kuwait.
"It's a huge honor to be standing in front of you today as the newest commander of the 301st," Lewis said.
"I look forwarding to being a part of the 301st," he added, "and working for you as your commander, shoulder to shoulder."
Brig. Gen. John J .Elam, acting commanding general of the 416th Theater Engineer Command (TEC), was also in attendance and expressed confidence that despite the change in leadership, the 301st will continue to distinguish itself among the 416th TEC, and Army Reserve.
"I know for a fact that the 301st will continue to excel," Elam remarked. "What you do is critical to this nation."
"Don't take your foot off the gas," he urged.
Representing I Corps, the 56th Army Band, better known as the "America's Corps Band," rendered live music at the event.
A Busy Year
Under Morgan's leadership, the 301st played an integral role supporting I Corps at Yama Sakura, the first exercise of its kind where a MEB has directly supported a corps element, managing joint security operations in its organic role.
"We have proven the need of a maneuver enhancement brigade for a corps or division level element in a combat zone," said Morgan.
"We can fill a lot of gaps and holes in areas where they don't normally have the kind of support that we can provide," he added.
Last year the 301st deployed to the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana, as part of Task Force 76. The brigade was fully operational within 96 hours and achieved a 100% mission execution rating, outperforming their Army National Guard and active duty counterparts.
In addition to leading the 301st, Morgan also commanded Task Force Ops of U.S. Northern Command's Command & Control Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Response Element, also known as C2CRE.
Under C2CRE, the 301st headquarters company and 801st Engineer Company were expected to be able to rapidly deploy in response to domestic (homeland) CBRN incidents, if necessary.
Also during Morgan's tenure as commander of the 301st, the 672nd Engineer Company was sent to Belize to begin construction on a classroom and two clinic buildings that were sorely needed in the area.
Just a few weeks later, the 672nd collected over 4,600 pounds of food donations for the Missoula Food Bank, enough to feed 100 families in the area, or supply the food bank for an entire week.
Never satisfied with the status quo, the 672nd is planning to hold an even larger event in the future in order to raise awareness of the Army Reserve in the local community and help those who need it most.
In the 387th Engineer Company, 315th Engineer Battalion, Sgt. Michael Orozco won last year's Army Reserve Best Warrior competition, shortly afterwards, 1st Sgt. Christopher Mitter competed in his first full-length Ironman triathlon after accepting a challenge from his company.
In the headquarters company, Capt. Sean Prosser and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas C. Perry traveled to the Pentagon to present, along with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Idaho State Police with a Freedom Award, the highest award of its kind for a civilian employer providing extraordinary support for members of the National Guard and federal reserve forces.
"Many, if not most of you have served at least one overseas deployment," said Lewis. "By standing here today you have made a choice to suit up, and do your duty to your unit, your Army and your country."
"I thank you for you and your families' sacrifice, and for doing such a fantastic job to give the 301st the great reputation that it has," he concluded.