FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Warrant Officer Career College students and staff welcomed a new commandant during a change of command ceremony Oct. 6 at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.

Col. Stanley O. Smith replaced Col. Mark T. Jones during the traditional ceremony.

"I am excited about the future of this college as we try to make it better. Together we will make the warrant officer cohort stronger," Smith said. "I only heard good things about the college, and now I know why after I met the people of the college. Of all the jobs in the Army I could have had, this is the one I pursued."

Smith most recently served as Aviation adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior as part of the Multinational Security and Transition Command, Baghdad, Iraq.

He was commissioned in 1985 and is a Senior Army Aviator, rated in various helicopters including the OH-58A/C/D Kiowa and UH-60 Black Hawk.

He is joined here by his wife, Lisa, and their son.

"Smith is an impressive Army Aviator, and he and Lisa are the right team to further develop and refine warrant officer education," said event host Brig. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, U.S. Army Combined Army Center for Leader Development and Education deputy commanding general and Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., commandant.

"Commandants are important people. The heart and soul of any school is its staff and faculty," he continued. "I couldn't be happier to welcome you and your Family to the college."

During Jones' three years as commandant, nearly 10,000 warrant officers received education at the college. Under his guidance, the WOCC received equipment upgrades, new faculty and curriculum overhauls, all while maintaining the highest standards, MacFarland said.

"(Jones) successfully moved the college forward. He's definitely been a transformational commandant here," MacFarland said. "Mark Jones has been a key leader in ensuring this school continues to provide warrant officers the education they need."

Jones said he plans to retire soon and devote his newly found free time to his wife, Sheila, and their children.

He was commissioned in 1984 and, as a Master Army Aviator, is rated in the OH-58 Kiowa and AH-64A/D Apache Longbow, among other aircraft.

"The last three years have been the most rewarding of my career, and the most gut-wrenching. It is time the Army realizes warrant officer's contribution to the force," Jones said. "We've turned huge corners and made headway, but the journey is still before us."

The WOCC trains warrant officers - from all Army branches - from the time they enter the ranks through Warrant Officer Candidate School. Staff continues the warrant officer education system throughout Soldiers' careers, developing them into technical experts and leaders.