By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJune 29, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- As rain fell over the Soldiers in formation, the 1st Battalion, 14th Aviation Regiment welcomed a new commander during a ceremony on Howze Field June 22.
Lt. Col. Michael S. Johnson assumed command of the battalion from Lt. Col. Jeffrey S. Dahlgren as the unit colors changed hands from the outgoing commander to the incoming.
Col. Kelly E. Hines, 110th Aviation Brigade commander, presided over the ceremony and expressed his gratitude to Dahlgren for his service and leadership as he bid farewell, and then welcomed the new command team.
"When [Dahlgren] took over [this battalion], Apache training is what we called 'in the red' with a very significant backlog or rebuttal," said the brigade commander. "His dynamic leadership resulted from classes going from deep in the red to largely green, and his Soldiers have successfully popped that bubble.
"Losing a command team like the Dahlgrens is never easy, but, as is the Army way, the departure of one Army leadership teams [brings] the arrival of a new one, and I couldn't have asked for better than the Johnsons," said Hines. "Team Johnson is fully charged and raring to go, and I know you'll build upon the incredible track record of the 1-14th. You're now charged with providing the Army with the attack Aviation's assets necessary to ensure the success of this great nation -- a task I know you're up to."
Johnson began his military career when he was commissioned into the U.S. Army in 1997, and his first assignment was as an Aviation officer here at Fort Rucker. He has served in a multitude of Aviation assignments across the world, including as assistant S3 and platoon leader for the 1-2nd Avn. Regt. in Camp Page, Korea; platoon leader and battalion S1 for the 3-101st Avn. Regt., Fort Campbell, Kentucky; company commander for both the 3-229th Avn. Regt. and 1-82nd Avn. Regt. in Fort Bragg, North Carolina; as well as battalion operations officer and executive officer for the 2-159th Avn. Regt. in Storck Barracks, Germany.
With his wealth of experience, Johnson said he's ready to take on the challenge of leading the Tomahawk battalion.
"To Major General [William K. Gayler, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general] and Colonel Hines, thank you so much for this opportunity to serve as the commander of this fantastic organization," said the incoming commander. "I truly am humbled and am very excited about the opportunity, and I'm looking forward to the next two years -- it is an honor."
The 1-14th Avn. Regt. trains entry-level Aviators to fly AH-64 Apache helicopters -- the most lethal helicopters in the world, according to Hines.
"Most of us understand the importance of the Apache on the battlefield and that no other aircraft strikes fear into the hearts of our enemy like the Apache does, but few realize the efforts it takes to provide the pilots what's necessary to fly these awesome aircraft," said the brigade commander.
"We are the ones that go when no one else will," added Dahlgren. "We are the ones that make the enemy go away. We're the ones you call when you need help. We're the ones who will answer the phone in the middle of the night. This is our tribe philosophy, our battalion, and what makes us special.
"Mike and Elesa, we could not be more excited than to hand the ball off to you two," said the outgoing commander. "Continue to move the Tomahawk team down the field and gain more yards. We know that you will succeed in leading this amazing battalion and they are lucky to have you to call the plays."