JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - The 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) welcomed Col. Owen G. Ray as he took command at Watkins Field, here, July 11, in a change of command ceremony where Col. Guillaume N. Beaurpere relinquished command after leading the unit for the last two years.

The change of command ceremony is an old Army tradition that serves two main purposes. First, it allows the incoming commander to assess the readiness and discipline of the unit at his first formation. Second, the passing of the unit colors serves as a definitive point in time for the responsibility of command to pass from the old commander to the new. The colors represent the heritage and history of the unit and the commander's symbol of authority.

Ray is no stranger to the 1st SFG (A) as he has held a command at every level within the organization.

He served as a detachment commander in 2003 and as a company commander in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2011. In 2013, Ray commanded the 4th Battalion, 1st SFG (A) and deployed as part of the Special Operations Joint Task Force.

His return to JBLM and the 1st SFG (A) Family was lauded by the change of command reviewing officer, Maj. Gen. E. John Deedrick, Jr., the 1st Special Forces Command's commanding general.

Deedrick highlighted the scope of leadership and dedication exuded by Beaurpere.

"During his time in command, Col. Beaurpere tackled our nation's highest strategic objective and probably one of the toughest problems that we face right now," said Deedrick referencing the complex and ever-changing global environment in which the 1st SFG (A) operates.

Deedrick thanked the Soldiers of 1st SFG (A) for their commitment to excellence and circled back to express his confidence in Ray as the right man at the right time to lead the unit forward.

"Col. Ray comes with a wealth of experience, knowledge and understanding of this group's mission set," said Deedrick. "He [Col. Ray] is certainly a proven warrior that fights alongside his men and I have no doubt the group will benefit from his leadership."

Ray kept his remarks short and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to command the 1st SFG (A).

"It's an honor to stand with you here today on this unique opportunity to serve again with this exceptional unit," said Ray. "This is our fourth tour serving with 1st SFG (A) and my family and I are happy to be back home."

In his parting remarks Beaurpere shared his heartfelt respect to the Soldiers, their Families, and his.

"The people of 1st group are truly America's finest and America's treasure," said Beaurpere. "I stand in absolute awe at the service rendered and the impact this unit had on multiple theaters."

Beaurpere thanked his Family for their sacrifice and resilience, and paid homage to those he led.

"There is no greater honor bestowed upon an officer of the United States Army than to have commanded this formation at this particular time," said Beaurpere. "This opportunity was blessed by the communion of a resilient family and dedicated service of outstanding noncommissioned officers and senior advisers."

Beaurpere will continue to serve in the Special Operations Forces enterprise as the executive officer to the commander of the United States Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida.