FORT POLK, La. — Fort Polk’s 1st Battalion, 5th Aviation Regiment welcomed Lt. Col. JD Swinney as its new commander during a change of command ceremony July 23, at the unit’s hangar on Fort Polk’s Polk Army Airfield.
Swinney replaced Lt. Col. Connie M. Lane, who took command July 20, 2019, and is headed to an assignment in Washington.
Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank, commander, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, was the ceremony’s guest speaker. He addressed the relevance of the 1st Bn, 5th Avn Reg motto: No Mission Denied.
“Anyone familiar with the mission of this battalion will immediately recognize the linkage between this historical motto and the professional approach to duty that all Soldiers in this battalion execute on a daily basis,” Frank said. “The companies within 1-5 Aviation reflect the same approach to their mission that Lt. Col. Connie Lane has since taking command of this unit two years ago.”
Frank thanked Lane’s spouse, Lt. Col. Shoshannah Lane, herself an AH-64 Apache helicopter pilot, and their daughter, Lilly, for their support.
“The Lanes are an Army Aviation power couple,” he said. “Sho, thank you for your professional example; you and Connie have spent countless hours discussing ways to improve the quality of life for our Soldiers and Army Families stationed here at Fort Polk.”
Frank welcomed Swinney and his Family: Spouse Liz and daughters Mili and Cora.
“JD has an incredible Army career,” he said. “He is absolutely the right leader in our Army to take the colors of this storied formation and maximize the ability of 1-5 Aviation to contribute to operations at the Joint Readiness Training Center.”
Frank said Swinney embodies the Warrior Ethos and will lead 1st Bn, 5th Avn Reg from the front.
“We are proud to have you join the ranks of the historic 1st Battalion, 5th Aviation Regiment — the Diamondbacks,” he said.
Lane was next to the podium and reflected on his two years at the helm of 1st Bn, 5th Avn Reg. He said the opportunity to lead what he considers the most unique and diverse aviation battalion in the Army has been the highlight of his military career.
“Despite being here for two years, there is always something new to discover about this battalion,” he said. “There is no other aviation battalion in the Army like you.”
Lane said the missions of each company in the battalion, from VIP flights, to rotational support, to medical evacuations, contributed to the unit’s diversity and uniqueness. He highlighted the role of Charlie Company’s Cajun Dustoff as the battalion’s “No. 1” mission.
“Without you, the box could not be the rigorous test of an Infantry Brigade Combat Team that it is today,” he said. “You are the unsung heroes of the JRTC and Fort Polk. You are the best — and most utilized — MEDEVAC unit in the Army.”
Lane said he is humbled to have served with 1st Bn, 5th Avn Reg, and will reflect on the unit’s accomplishments proudly for the rest of his life.
“The Diamondback legacy is recorded in deeds, not words,” he said. “I could not have asked for a better team or command experience.”
Swinney thanked Frank for the chance to command the regiment. He recalled that Fort Polk has always been special to he and his spouse as this is where they met, and where he began his aviation career.
“Needless to say, my Family and I couldn’t be happier to come home to God’s country,” he said. “We won’t let the team down.”
The 1st Bn, 5th Avn Reg conducts general support aviation operations and provides administrative support for Headquarters, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, and the Fort Polk Army Garrison, to train Soldiers, grow leaders and support the validation of units as they prepare to deploy, fight and win the nation’s wars.
The unit’s history has included several name and mission changes since it was constituted on July 20, 1940 as the 5th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop assigned to the 5th Division at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana.
Names through the years included: 5th Reconnaissance Troop, Mechanized; 5th Mechanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop; 5th Reconnaissance Company; Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Aviation Battalion; and Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 5th Avn Bn.