Captain Azura Lewis took command of D Company, 326th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), March 17 at Cole Park Commons.
Lewis took the helm from Capt. James Gallagher, military intelligence officer, 1st BCT, in a change of command ceremony on a rainy but joyous day. Gallagher lead the Stalkers to support brigade operations during Bastogne’s rotation to the Joint Readiness Training Center-Fort Polk, Louisiana, during the pandemic where the company performed superbly.
“These Soldiers were the first group to design, test and validate the MCAS [Mobile Cooperative and Automative Sensors] concept in 1st Brigade,” Gallagher said. “This allowed brigade leadership to see farther, understand sooner and share wider with prudent speed accuracy and precision while at JRTC. These Soldiers worked tirelessly and never complained.”
With the caliber of Soldiers under Lewis’s command she is humbled to walk into a great organization.
“Delta Company has such a storied history with a specific and unique mission, and I am so honored to carry on in the footsteps before me,” Lewis said. “The Soldiers before you are amazing, and I am thankful for the command trusting me with this company.”
Before taking command, Lewis was Sapper Eagle 2, the battalion’s intelligence officer. She performed so exemplary she was selected to lead the brigade’s intelligence company.
Lieutenant Colonel Walter Allard, commander, 326th BEB, spoke of his confidence in Lewis during his remarks at the ceremony.
“I’ve been impressed with your leadership as Sapper Eagle 2,” Allard said. “I know that you will translate that into leading a well-disciplined organization.”
Yet, the road to get to this moment was not easy or planned, but Lewis’ background prepared her for success. She started out at Georgia Southern University where she majored in sports management, was on the cross-country and track and field teams. Lewis specialized in the 800-meter dash, threw the javelin and dabbled in the heptathlon just for fun. She had no idea that would prepare her for the military as she had no plans of joining while in college.
“I didn’t want to go to grad school right away,” Lewis said. “I looked into gaining a masters in kinesiology to become a sports therapist but didn’t want to do three to four more years of school. I’ve always looked up to my brother, Alex Robillard, and at the time he was in the Ranger Regiment. He told me the Army would be a good fit for me, and so I decided to go to OCS.”
Lewis immediately knew the Army was a good fit. She asked for military intelligence but wanted some combat arms experience prior to heading to that career field. The Army granted her wish. Without hesitation, she headed to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to become a field artillery officer. Within the branch detail program, the Army would allow her four years of service within the artillery branch, but immediately following Lewis would be slotted to join the Military Intelligence Corps.
“I was branch detailed, but I really wanted some combat arms experience just to get a better feel of the battlefield and know what kind of information you’ll actually need,” Lewis said. “I think it has helped me a lot and made me a better officer.”
Not only did field artillery make her a better officer, it introduced her to her husband of seven years – Maj. Freddie Lewis.
Azura met Freddie while he was in the Captains Career Course at the artillery school, while she was there at the basic course for new lieutenants. Their bond from that moment to this change of command has played a vital role in her military and personal life, even though they have been separated through multiple deployments for two years of their marriage.
“There have been some tough times,” Lewis said. “That is the reality of a dual military couple. We’ve had multiple stints where we have been separated from each other due to the Army. So for us to be together in the same place, and for him to be here today was awesome. He’s also been a great mentor. Now that I’m in command, I’m definitely going to lean on him heavily for his experience when he was a commander. Him being a few years ahead of me has definitely paid dividends for me.”
Lewis reflects on her road to gaining command, her journey through the world of the field artillery, her relationship with her husband and what it means to be a woman in the Army. She is adamant dispelling the weak female stereotype that has been proven as false over the years within the military, and she is adamant about uplifting the female image. Mediocrity is not a word in her vocabulary, and she advises women to not settle on being average.
“The military is not for everybody,” Lewis said. “You have to have the mental ability to push through during tough times when people doubt you and when people think you’re not adequate enough. You have to be able to learn your job and learn it better than somebody else. You have to set yourself apart. If you are a female looking to come into the military you have to want to make it better and look into lifting up the female image.”
As an avid follower of retired Lt. Gen. Nadja West, Lewis intends to uplift the image of strength and success in our nation’s Army with West’s same poise and intellect.