The United States Army Priority Air Transport Command (USAPAT) conducted a Change of Command and Change of Responsibility ceremony at the unit's facility on Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, July 16, 2019.
Lt. Col. Andrew J. Deforest assumed command from Lt. Col. Matthew L. Rowland and Command Sgt. Maj William M. Peden assumed responsibility from 1st Sgt. Clarence P. Davis during the duel ceremony for USAPAT.
Col. Mark G. Kappelmann, commander of The Army Aviation Brigade out of Fort Belvoir, Virginia, welcomed the new command team and their families to the Military District of Washington and the USAPAT community.
"We often say to incoming personnel that they have big shoes to fill. This is not true in this case," said Kappelmann. "Lt. Col. Rowland and 1st Sgt. Davis' shoes are not particularly big. However, they use those shoes to walk on water."
Rowland addressed USAPAT for the last time as commander reflecting on unit achievements reached.
"I have come to personally know the depth of privilege it is to command and lead such a fine, unique organization as USAPAT. I am grateful to say that we have continued to uphold the proud tradition and historic excellence in executive class transport of our military's senior leaders," said Rowland.
Rowland closed out his address by thanking those who contributed to mission success throughout his two-year tenure and welcomed in the new commander. "You are truly inheriting the best job in Army Aviation," said Rowland.
Davis spoke about his appreciation for the opportunity to work with the Soldiers."This position gave me an opportunity to exercise my passion for Soldiers at a higher level," said Davis. "My job was the Soldiers of USAPAT and everyone was my business."
Peden then addressed the unit for his first time under official capacity and thanked those who played a part in his Army plight that led him to USAPAT. He noted that he is the first senior enlisted advisor of USAPAT to hold the rank of Command Sergeant Major.
Deforest, the last to speak at the podium, greeted those in attendance, thanked his support system and made an oath of commitment to the unit.
"I surely would not be standing here today in this capacity if not for the determined efforts of my family, friends, coaches and mentors," said Deforest. "Serving our Nation requires a strong team and each of you have provided me with strength and determination to lead."
USAPAT's mission is to provide safe and efficient global travel for senior dignitaries and military leaders. Rowland touched upon the recent advancements in their operations.
The unit has remodeled its facility to include a commercial grade kitchen for training and meal preparation. The organization has developed a more robust international plans team due to some excellent hiring and personnel. Recently USAPAT honored their heritage with a 30th anniversary ceremony and semi-formal that included veterans from around the world, said Rowland.
USAPAT's motto is first class. Kappelmann stressed the unique demands that fall onto the unit commander, specifically because their customers are military officials who hold high office within the National Capital Region. Providing first class transport to these distinguished travelers leaves no room for error. The unit's flawless rate of mission success has translated into great pride for its members and affiliates.
"I hope that all of you assigned to USAPAT enjoy the same pride that I feel being affiliated with such a tremendous unit," added Kappelmann.