By DJ Montoya, 1st Space BrigadeJune 30, 2010
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - The color of Army signal orange highlighted the parade grounds of Patriot Park on Peterson as Army Space Soldiers from the 53rd Signal Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, conducted a change of command ceremony on the morning of June 23.
The battalion's colors were passed from outgoing commander Lt. Col. Patrick L. Kerr to incoming commander Lt. Col. Benjamin C. Jones by Col. Jeffrey A. Farnsworth, commander of the 1st Space Brigade, before a crowd of VIPs, Soldiers, government civilians, contractors, and Family members.
Prior to the ceremony, Farnsworth presented Kerr with the Legion of Merit for his service as commander of the 53rd Signal Battalion.
The 53rd is the oldest operational battalion in the 1st Space Brigade and the only unit in the Department of Defense that conducts payload and transmission control of the Defense Satellite Communications System and Wideband Global System satellite constellations. The management of these constellations by the 53rd ensures continuous communications connectivity for mission critical subscribers from the president to warfighters and national agencies engaged in the Global War on Terrorism.
Farnsworth complimented members of the battalion by stating, "Standing before you are the commanders, first sergeants, and key leaders from around our world that day-to-day with their Soldiers are responsible for mission success for the 53rd Signal Battalion.
"The mantel of command has now passed and with it the responsibility for successful mission accomplishment and care of over 300 Soldiers and their Families at seven sites in the continental United States, Germany, Japan, and Hawaii. This is a special battalion with a unique responsibility to control payloads and transmissions 24/7/365 without fail.
"Lieutenant Colonel Pat Kerr has met this awesome responsibility with distinction. Under his leadership the control warrior team has taken an organization designed for one mission and adapted it to take on three.
"Pat you have done a superb job. You are a great leader, team builder, and control warrior. Thank you for all your hard work and sacrifice."
Farnsworth turned his attention to Jones by saying, "Today we welcome Ben and his family to the 1st Space team. Ben comes with great credentials, experience, and superb record of success. Ben, you have a challenging mission and situation but you have a super global team to get it done."
Among his many acknowledgements to those who assisted him during his tenure as battalion commander, Kerr said, "The Soldiers on the parade field look great. They represent a whole bunch of folks around the world, but the gentleman hanging behind our national colors - Command Sergeant Major Czuba - demands that. He has been a great asset to the unit and a personal mentor to me for two years. Not only him, but all the Soldiers standing represent this superior battalion.
"I have to thank them for their duty on and off. They are the ones that make it happen. Sometimes the commander is out front and has the responsibility to bear, but the work is done in this battalion by the Soldiers ... the backs of E4s, E5s, and E6s. And that's why they are not here and I want to recognize them.
"This is a brigade staff officer signing off the net," said a tearful Kerr, whose next assignment is with the Defense Information Systems Agency.
Taking his turn addressing the crowd, Jones stated, "To the Soldiers, Civilians, Contractors, and Families of the 53rd Signal Battalion, thank you for your very warm welcome.
"I am proud to be part of this team. And I am committed to your well being and quality of life. I will do everything I can to build upon what Pat Kerr has worked to develop. I will work to ensure Soldiers and Civilians of the 53rd Signal Battalion are prepared to face the many challenges that lie ahead.
"In order for us to be successful with our extremely vital and highly visible mission sets we must continue to develop highly disciplined, well-trained Soldiers led by caring leaders. I am confident we will be successful as a team and we will continue the tradition of excellence. 53rd Signal Battalion - we control the high ground!"
Prior to becoming the new commander for the 53rd Signal Battalion, Jones was the command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence action officer for the Pakistan-Afghanistan Coordination Cell Directorate Joint Staff and action officer for Joint Testing Branch, Enterprise Services Division Joint Staff J6.