FORT DRUM, N.Y. - - As spring rushed into Fort Drum, Commando Soldiers shaved and shaped berets for a series of ceremonies that changed the leadership lineup of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

Fresh from opportunity leave following Mountain Peak 2018, the Commando brigade has been busy getting ready for a rotation to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana - but not before each top commander passed the torch on to the next.

All but one battalion change of command culminated toward the brigade's own, in which Col. Scott Himes, 2BCT outgoing commander, relinquished command to Col. Paul Larson, May 9, on Sexton Field.

Col. (R) Mike Plummer, the Man of the Mountain and first 2BCT commander was present at each ceremony. He awarded Himes and Command Sgt. Maj. Fortenberry, 2BCT senior noncommissioned officer, the Order of Saint Maurice for their distinctive service to the infantry.

Plummer also presented the Shield of Sparta to Anjoleen Himes and Lorna Fortenberry, spouses of the 2BCT command team, for their significant contributions to the infantry.

The ceremony's presiding officer was Brig. Gen. Patrick Donahoe, 10th MTN DIV acting commanding general. He marched alongside Himes and Larson to the tune of the 10th MTN DIV Band before the guidon was passed, signifying the transfer of authority.

"I am full of pride due to the success of the brigade standing before you but of course I am also sad that I will no longer be a part of it," Himes said. "It simply feels like the bus has come to a sudden stop and I'm standing there watching 2BCT drive away as they head to their next mission."

Himes said while departing command is bittersweet for him, he feels confident the Commandos are in good hands with Larson.

"I wish you well and I'm in awe of your mental and physical toughness," Himes said to Larson during his speech. "Not many officers would be able to bounce back following a serious parachute injury as you have in just one short year."

A former NCO, Larson said he waited 20 years to return to the North Country where he held his first assignment as a rifle platoon leader after commissioning as an infantry officer.

Larson's career includes service with special forces and deployments to Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.

The Commando change of leadership punctuates the brigade's shift back to training from the pomp and circumstance required by eight ceremonies. Larson took command just in time for his new brigade to execute an emergency deployment readiness exercise.

The U.S. Army Forces Command directed an EDRE that will test the Commandos ability to respond to an emergency deployment alert with little or no notice. These routinely conducted exercises allow the Army to asses units overall readiness for real-world missions.

This EDRE entails Commandos shipping equipment by sea, eventually integrating into the approaching JRTC rotation. Soldiers will load equipment by rail headed to multiple ports for transport by sea, ultimately meeting 2BCT at Fort Polk.

As the new Commando 6 prepares to execute this and other upcoming missions, Himes wished him luck and departed with full confidence of the torch he passed.

"The 4,200 Soldier brigade standing before you - organized into 39 companies, batteries, and troops and 7 battalions - are indeed Mountain Tough," Himes said. "They are experts in their respective occupations, physically fit, technically and tactically sound, well equipped and well led by their officers and noncommissioned officers."