By Maureen RoseApril 8, 2010
Yesterday, the leadership of Fort Knox\'s Warrior Transition Battalion was transferred from the outgoing commander, Lt. Col. Gary Travis to the new commander, Lt. Col. David Haines. Travis had been in command for the last 27 months, while Haines had been serving at the S-3 at Knox's 194th Armored Brigade.
WTUs were organized in 2007 by DA to replace the former Medical Hold system. The newer system provided more personal support and was designed for active duty personnel requiring six months or more of long-term - and often complex - medical care. Knox's WTB has a cadre of 84 personnel to support its 360 warriors.
Commander Col. Ronald Place, Medical Command at Ireland Army Community Hospital and the ceremony host, said Travis had provided "vigilant leadership for a unit with no solid structure" which consistently exceeded the capacity of its facility. Not only did the unit improve in structure and leadership under Travis's watch, but six of his practices have been adopted by the Army as "best practices" for all WTUs.
The Army's vice chief of staff recognized the Knox unit for its safety record while Travis was at the helm. Of more than 3,000 Soldiers who passed through the WTB, Place said he knew of at least 10 Soldiers who were in life-threatening situations where Travis and his largely nonmedical cadre were responsible for intervening and averting a negative outcome.
Place said while commanders and first sergeants have been caring for Soldiers for generations, the WTB Soldiers come with complex problems for which regular units have no solution; they are often "the hardest of the hard cases."
Travis credited Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini, adjutant general for Kentucky National Guard and Maj. Gen. James Milano, Fort Knox senior commander, for their support which he said was "absolutely necessary" for the WTB.
Travis, an activated National Guardsman, has served two tours in Afghanistan as an embedded trainer in support of the global war on terrorism. He called Haines "as solid as a rock" and told the WTB staff it was in good hands.
Haines was described by Ch. (Maj.) James Boyle as a man of "quiet determination" who had experienced God's mercy firsthand when he survived an Iraqi improvised explosive device explosion. (See related story: WTU battalion commander walks the talk)
Haines told the cadre that he appreciated the challenges of its duty. He thanked those in the audience, some of whom had been directly involved in his medical care during his nearly-three year tenure in the warrior transition system, which concluded at Fort Knox's WTB. In addition to the medical staff's assistance in his physical recovery, Haines thanked the 194th Armored Brigade because, "being a member of a great team strengthened me and aided me in my psychological recovery."
A native of Rhode Island, Haines began his military career at Fort Knox in 19083 as an armor crewman. He has served in infantry, airborne, armor, and cavalry units during his career.
His awards and decorations include a Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters, the Good Conduct Medal, the Combat Action Badge as well as US Army, Canadian, and British airborne badges.