FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Soldiers and civilian employees of the 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment welcomed their new commander during a change of command ceremony June 27.

Lt. Col. Demetrios J. Nicholson assumed command of the 1-223rd Spartans from Lt. Col. Joseph C. Matthew at Fort Rucker’s Howze Field.

Col. Russell E. Stinger, 110th Aviation Brigade commander and host of the event, said he is confident Nicholson will lead the Spartans with the same spirit Matthew has for the last two years.

“He will have to hustle to maintain that momentum, but he is the right man for the job,” Stinger said.

The new commander said he was proud to take the reins of the unit.

“The Spartans exemplify the mark of excellence,” Nicholson said. “My Family and I are humbled and honored to become a member of your superb team, the Spartan team.”

Nicholson joins the unit after an assignment at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he served as an instructor at the Center for Army Tactics, Command and General Staff College.

His military education includes the Aviation Officer Basic and Captain Career courses, Initial Entry Rotary Wing Course (UH-1 and AH-1F), Combined Arms and Services Staff School, OH-58D Kiowa Warrior Aircraft Qualification Course, Command and General Staff College, Air Assault School, and TH-67 Creek Instructor Pilot Course.

He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and also earned a master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University.

Matthew is scheduled to retire after his departure from the Spartans, and Stinger commented on his time in command.

“Joe is the embodiment of esprit de corps,” Stinger said. “He has embraced every challenge that we have thrown at him.”

The colonel added that on top of everything the Spartans do, 24 hours a day, they are “watching over all of us and keeping us safe with Flatiron.”

For his part, Matthew said he will always treasure his time as lead Spartan.

“I have served here with pride with you all,” he said. “I want to thank each and every one of you. All of you Soldiers, from the lowest level up, execute this mission no matter what we ask of you every single day.”