FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment welcomed a new command sergeant major during a ceremony at Howze Field Oct. 6.

Command Sgt. Maj. James W. Coquat assumed responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Michael L. Awai as the unit colors changed hands from Awai to Lt. Col. Cecil C. Nix, 1-212th Avn. Regt. commander, to Coquat.

Nix said that he believes the new command sergeant major has the experience necessary to continue the Wings of Freedom legacy.

"We're extremely happy to welcome Command Sergeant Major Coquat and his wife, Rawnie, to the battalion," he said. "Based on my interaction with [Coquat], I'm confident that the 1-212th is receiving a command sergeant major with the necessary Aviation experience and motivation to achieve a long list of future successes."

Coquat enlisted in the Army in 1998 as a medium helicopter repairer, and with his nearly 20 years of experience in the Army, comes to Fort Rucker with a wealth of experience having served in multiple leadership positions across the globe.

He's performed duties as an MH-47E Chinook crew chief in the Special Operations Aviation Training Company Flight Training section, as well as for B Co., 2-160th Special Operations Avn. Regt. at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He was also a flight platoon sergeant in Korea, a detachment sergeant in Honduras and returned to the 160th SOAR as the NCO in charge for the Regiment Aviation Maintenance Office.

He is a combat veteran with numerous deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Inherent Resolve and other contingency operations.

Coquat went on to thank his family members and those who gave him the opportunity to serve as a senior NCO in the unit.

"I first want to thank (my wife), Rawnie, for all the love and support she's given me," said the incoming command sergeant major. "She married into this Army life as I made master sergeant six years ago and dove headfirst into everything the Army's ever asked of her. I would not be here today if it weren't for you.

"Thanks to the chain of command for this prestigious opportunity. I want to thank the Nix and the Awai families for welcoming us into the Wings family. You made us feel at home right from the start," he said. "Serving as a command sergeant major in this great Army is an honor and a privilege. It is truly humbling and it means the world to me."

Although Coquat said he's privileged to take the reins from Awai, he knows that his journey to success will require teamwork.

"Let's not forget those in harm's way, those who support us and those who have gone before us," he said. "Wings of Freedom Soldiers, thank you for all you do to serve this great nation. You look outstanding today, and I look forward to all we can do together and the many successes that I'm sure that we will have."