FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- With the passing of the noncommissioned officer (NCO) sword Wednesday, Command Sgt. Maj. Tod L. Glidewell became the 12th Aviation Branch senior enlisted NCO.

During a ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum, Glidewell assumed responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Donald R. Sanders.

Glidewell served as the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center command sergeant major before his new position. Sanders, who served as the senior enlisted officer at the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) since January 2007, will retire later this spring after about 30 years of Army service.

"I look forward to serving the Soldiers of our branch in these challenging and exciting times," Glidewell said. "Each day seems to bring our Army new challenges. It seems Soldiers of our branch continue to accomplish things that we thought were impossible a few short years ago."

Some of those accomplishments include medical evacuation innovations and performing lifts and air assault missions in conditions that only special operations performed in the past, he said.

"The discipline Aviation Soldiers consistently display across the force is welcomed on the battlefield. Aviation now is truly recognized as a force multiplier, and no one wants to roll out the gate without it," he said.

Despite the praise, Glidewell said Aviation success cannot define success for the Army.

"Before we pat ourselves on the back, we must remember that our ground brothers are truly the ones (who) assign our measure of success because they are truly why we exist," he said. "Soldiers like these are why I serve."

USAACE and Fort Rucker Commander Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III said while it was a sad day to see Sanders retire, it was also a happy day to see Glidewell assume the USAACE command sergeant major position.

"He's the right man for this time, for our Branch and for Fort Rucker," he said. "We know that we continue to be faced with challenges and difficulties, but Tod, we know you're the man who can meet those responsibilities."

Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Felder said Glidewell's duties he performed in his last position will have an impact on USAACE. Felder, who worked with Glidewell in Iraq in 2006, said USAACE will benefit from Glidewell's personality and leadership.

"I feel the skill sets that he has acquired as the Army's top safety NCO have given him the experience to make better assessments on programs, Soldiers and systems," Felder said. "His standards of excellence and integrity will only enhance what the branch command sergeants major before him began."

Felder added that Glidewell's familiarity with the installation will be an asset in his new post.

"He understands the concerns (here) as well as (at) other installations he visited as the (USACRC) command sergeant major," Felder said. "Glidewell truly cares about (Fort) Rucker."

During the ceremony, Sanders said he will miss serving in the Army.

"Thirty years ago, I made the decision to join the Army, and (in) doing so, I began a calling and a career that would prove better than I expected," he said. "The Army demanded and insisted more of me than I would have ever asked of myself."

Felder said Sanders made two big impacts on USAACE while he served as the command sergeant major. One of those was on getting Fort Rucker's Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES) "fired up."

Since 1983, the Aviation Branch has enjoyed a distinguished history of selecting the best leaders for each period of transition. Wednesday's change of responsibility marks the conclusion of one significant NCO career and offers another accomplished senior NCO opportunities for further growth and success.