On the 101st birthday of the 1st Infantry Division, a new chapter began as Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Martin, 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley, commanding general, relinquished command of the oldest division in the Army to Maj. Gen. John S. Kolasheski on Fort Riley's Cavalry Parade Field.
"Today we bid farewell to a great Army family, Maj. Gen. Joe Martin and his wife, Leann," said Gen. Robert B. Abrams, U.S. Army Forces Command senior leader. "We welcome a new command team, Maj. Gen. John Kolasheski and his wife, Buffy. It is a special day for the two outstanding families. Most importantly, it is a day for the Soldiers, families and civilians of the 1st Infantry Division."
Martin remembered his multiple assignments with the 1st Inf. Div. as he spoke to the Soldiers, family members and local community members in attendance.
"My name is Joe Martin and I will always be a 'Big Red One' Soldier," he said. "In many ways my personal history is deeply tied to this division.
"The Army has blessed me with the opportunity to command three times at Fort Riley. Each of those times I have had the honor to deploy with my Soldiers to combat. Each time the destination was Iraq, and each time the dedication of the Soldiers made that part of the world safer."
Martin's last deployment to Iraq with the Big Red One was as the commander of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component, Operation Inherent Resolve. The city of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, was freed from ISIS control during that deployment.
"I look back on the great accomplishments of those who served with me in the 23-country coalition," Martin said. "I look back at the accomplishments of the Iraqis. I was so proud to be there to help them. I will never forget it."
The 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley's new commander is no stranger to the historic division and post either.
Kolasheski was the deputy commanding general for maneuver of the division from June 2015 through May 2016. He was also assigned to the Big Red One with various units and deployments from 2001-2005.
"We (Kolasheski and his family) are truly thrilled to return to Fort Riley and the Flint Hills Region," he said. "Fort Riley truly is the best place in the Army to live, train, deploy from and return home to because of the tremendous talent here at Fort Riley and the phenomenal relationships with our local communities."
After remembering his past, Kolasheski looked to future of the division and his tenure as the next commanding general of the Big Red One.
"Today, on the division's birthday, I look forward to helping chart the course for the next hundred years by remaining focused on sustaining and building readiness in a capacity so that when called, we are ready."