FORT BENNING, Ga. - Col. Johnnie L. Johnson Jr. took command of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, from Col. Pete Jones in a change of command ceremony Thursday at the National Infantry Museum parade field.

Johnson assumes command of one of the most deployed units in the Army.

"I am proud and honored to join this team of distinguished professionals who embody the highest standards of service to our nation," Johnson said.

Johnson is no stranger to Fort Benning. Since June, he has served as chief, Commanders Initiatives Group at the Maneuver Center of Excellence's headquarters.

"Today, I am personally excited to return to the Marne Division for a third command tour," he said.
Jones will be taking on a new position at the Pentagon.

Over the last year, he led the "Sledgehammer" Brigade on its fourth tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Jones addressed his Soldiers for the final time.

"It has been the highlight of my career to have had the privilege to have served with you," he said. "It is with all sincerity that I say to you now, 'Thank you.' Thank you for your professionalism, for your steadfastness, and for your loyalty. I am proud to have served as 'Hammer 6.'"

During the ceremony, the commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo, praised Jones for his leadership and the accomplishments of his brigade during his time in command.

Johnson is a seasoned commander that is perfectly suited for the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Cucolo said. The Johnson family are the right people for the right unit at the right time.

Col. Johnson's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal with silver oak leaf cluster, the Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with silver and bronze oak leaf clusters, and the Army Good Conduct Medal.