By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJuly 20, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The 1st Aviation Brigade welcomed a new commander during a change of command ceremony on Howze Field July 14.
Col. Jason L. Miller assumed command of the brigade from Col. Woodard B. Hopkins as the unit colors changed hands from Hopkins to Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, to Miller.
Gayler presided over the ceremony and said that although the transition is bittersweet, he's fully confident that the storied brigade will continue its mission of excellence under its new leadership.
"Transitions are hard, especially when you transition leadership, but good units transition well, and I know that this unit will transition well," said the commanding general during the ceremony. "This brigade has probably the most complex and unique command structure and mission of any brigade in our Army. For every officer, warrant officer and three of our military occupational specialties across our Branch, their first indoctrination and touch with the Army starts with this brigade.
"[Hopkins] has expertly led in this constantly evolving program where he's in charge of the administration, the training, the health, the welfare [of this brigade]," he said, "but as we say farewell to one [command team], we always do a superb job of bringing another family right on their heels."
Gayler said he has complete confidence in the new command team, and he believes that there is no one better to lead the brigade to new heights.
"The Army has got so much talent, and with the Millers, it is an honor to have you at Fort Rucker and an honor to get the chance to watch you in command again," he said. "I knew Jason as a battalion commander, and I certainly knew then that he had the right stuff to command at the next, higher level. When you look at Jason's career of assignments, accomplishments and tours or deployments in combat, you can really find no one who is better prepared for a diverse mission."
Miller returns to Fort Rucker from his recent graduation from the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He began his military career in 1994 after receiving his commission from the U.S. Military Academy as an Aviation officer, and soon after completed the officer basic course and initial entry rotary wing training.
He's served in multiple leadership positions throughout his career, ranging from platoon leader and company executive officer for B Company, 4th Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment; and S1 for 2nd Bn., 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment; to commander for 2-158th Assault Helicopter Battalion, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, which deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2014; and G3 for the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command.
Miller said he's humbled to take command and appreciates the opportunity to lead the brigade where his military career began.
"Almost exactly 23 years ago, I entered the brigade to start my Aviation career with a different perspective … but this is my first unit, and now the Army has allowed me the opportunity to come full circle," said the brigade commander. "The last couple of weeks the brigade has accepted me into their formation and allowed me to admire their accomplishments, and I like what I see.
"The brigade sets the tone for the future of Army Aviation through the development of its Soldiers and leaders, and I'm excited, truly honored and privileged to be part of the organization," he continued. "I can't wait to serve with you, the Fort Rucker community, as we grow the future warfighters of Army Aviation."
"Jason, it's been a pleasure to get to know you over the last couple of weeks, and to meet your family," added Hopkins. "I know that the Golden Hawk brigade is in good hands with you in command."