By Andrew SharbelJanuary 11, 2010
FORT BELVOIR, Va. -- After more than two years of his leadership, the 29th Infantry Division bid farewell to Maj. Gen. Grant Hayden as Brig. Gen. Frank Batts took the reins in a change of command ceremony Tuesday at the division's headquarters on Fort Belvoir.
Batts comes to Belvoir after serving as deputy commander of Joint Forces Headquarters for the Virginia Army National Guard.
Hayden enlisted in the Army in 1970. After attending Officers Candidate School, he received his commission as an officer in June 1977. He has held operational assignments at every level of the Maryland Army National Guard, including many key staff positions and brigade and battalion commands.
With his successor now in place, Hayden will retire with his wife, Barbara, after nearly 40 years of service.
Virginia National Guard adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Robert Newman, attended the event and spoke about the tremendous contributions Hayden has achieved.
"I want to thank [Maj. Gen.] Hayden for his terrific leadership during his tenure," Newman said. "Under his command, the division has set a template for the way we will respond to events in the National Capital Region and one might assume, events throughout the rest of the nation."
At the conclusion of his speech, Newman presented Hayden with Virginia's Distinguished Service Medal for his contributions.
Hayden was the next to speak and he recalled some of the events that have highlighted his career.
"I was stationed in Estonia when the wall came down in Berlin. I have had the pleasure of working at the Pentagon and that was a real eye-opener for me. The highlight of my career was spending two weeks in Normandy during the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion," Hayden said. "What a way to go out as the commander of the 29th Infantry Division. I have reached the pinnacle and it has been a great experience and opportunity for me."
Batts next spoke about what the future holds for the division.
"That title really sounds strange. I never, ever dreamed of being in this position," Batts said. "[Gen.] Hayden has started us down a path and we need to continue on that path.
"I know that we can face whatever threat comes toward us. We have a great team here. I know the people we have in their respective positions will get the job done," Batts said.