ALEXANDER, NY (11/06/2009)(readMedia)-- An Alexander resident who has served in two wars takes command of the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade on Saturday, Nov. 7 in Latham, New York.

Col. Mark Stryker, a 26-year veteran of the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard, will replace Col. Michael Bobeck, who is leaving the position to take charge of the Army National Guard's fixed-wing aviation program in Washington D.C.

Stryker, a pilot for the New York State Police since 1986, lives in Alexander with his wife Mary and their three children. Prior to this assignment he was serving as the deputy commander for the New York Army National Guard's Troop Command.

The 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, a part of the 42nd Infantry Division, is a headquarters which controls Army helicopter units in support of a division or corps and can control up to five battalions. In 2005 the brigade provided helicopter transport support to Task Force Liberty, a 23,000- Soldier force operating in North Central Iraq, commanded by the 42nd Infantry Division.

The brigade is based at the New York National Guard's headquarters outside Albany.

The Change of Command ceremony is set for 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Stryker began his military career in 1983 when he was commissioned as an Ordnance officer through ROTC at SUNY Oswego. He completed Army flight school in 1984 and was assigned to the United States Army Reserve's 1209th United States Army Garrison Aviation section in Mattydale, New York as maintenance platoon leader.

In 1990 he transferred to the 423rd Air Ambulance Detachment and served 10 months on Active duty in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the positions of platoon leader, S3 and commander. He joined the New York Army National Guard in 1995 as the personnel officer for the 1st of the 142nd Attack Helicopter Battalion in Rochester and in 2000 he became executive officer of the 1-142nd Corps Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Battalion in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In 2006 he took command of the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion, which also includes overseeing the 249th Air Ambulance Company and B Company of the 3rd Battalion 126 Aviation (HJC-47) in Rochester. Prior to this assignment he was deputy commander of the 53rd Troop Command.

Col. Stryker's awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. He is a 1986 graduate of SUNY Oswego and The Army Command and General Staff College and the Joint Task Force Commander Training Course.

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