FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The U.S. Army Warrant Officer Career College welcomed a new commandant during a ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum Aug. 4.

Col. Kelly E. Hines assumed command from Col. Garry L. Thompson as Brig. Gen. Troy. D Galloway, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center deputy commanding general, presided over the ceremony and bid farewell to Thompson, thanking him for his years of dedicated service to the warrant officer corps, while welcoming the new commander and giving him his full vote of confidence.

"Today we recognize Col. Garry Thompson and his family's contribution to the Warrant Officer Career College, and we look forward to Kelly Hines and his family taking on that mantle of leadership," he said during the ceremony. "Garry, thanks to you, Mary, Jeb and Addy for a tremendous job -- well done.

"Col. Kelly Hines, congratulations -- we look forward to your leadership," the general continued. "He's obviously a very experienced leader and we also believe he's the right leader at the right time. If you could paint a picture of what a leader looks like in the United States Army over the last 25 years, that's Kelly Hines."
Hines is no stranger to Fort Rucker, having served in his previous assignment as the 110th Aviation Brigade commander, as well as the director for the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Directorate of Evaluations and Standardization.

He began his military service as an infantryman with the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 1985, and has served in various assignments, including machine gunner, fire team leader, squad leader and platoon leader before graduating college in 1992.

Hines has held numerous leadership positions across multiple continents throughout his career, ranging from flight section leader and operations officer for the Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai, Egypt; platoon leader and liaison officer for the 5th Battalion, 101st Avn. Regt., in Fort Campbell, Kentucky; company commander and battalion S3 for 3-160th Special Operations Avn. Regt. at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan; and commander of the 2-25th Avn. Regt., at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, and in Afghanistan.

"I'm extremely honored for the opportunity to join such a prestigious organization," said Hines during the ceremony. "I'm looking forward to getting to know everybody on the team, and I want to thank [Lt. Gen. Michael D. Lundy, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center commanding general] for placing his trust in me."

That trust is part of an organization that Galloway said is necessary in today's Army.

"For nearly 100 years, our Army has benefitted from the technical, tactical and leadership capabilities of our warrant officer corps. You absolutely serve a vital mission in the transformation of our Army today," said the general.

"This one goes down as the absolute best [commands] for my family and me because of everyone that we've had the opportunity to touch -- it's not often you get a chance to touch this many future leaders in the Army," added Thompson. "A few years ago, I fought for this assignment, and I can say that it's the absolutely best one I've had in nearly 30 years. I wouldn't be here without warrant officers, and I think anyone in Army Aviation can attest to that."