By Spc. Reese Von RogatszAugust 19, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. " The 16th Combat Aviation Brigade unfurled its colors beneath blue Washington skies on Gray Army Airfield here Aug. 1, 45 days after departing Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
The sequence of ceremonial events culminated in a Change of Command between Col. Robert Werthman and Col. Robert Dickerson on a warm summer afternoon with distinguished visitors, guests and Servicemembers in attendance.
"The ceremony was a reflection on the months of coordination and joint efforts between the Soldiers at FWA and JBLM," said Capt. Anthony Caristi, brigade adjutant, 16th CAB.
"The multiple moving pieces of the ceremony, executed so well, paralleled the efforts involved in transitioning the headquarters here," he explained.
Activations and assumption of command for 2-158 Assault Helicopter Battalion and 46th Aviation Support Battalion were followed by the patching and re-designation of 4th Squadron, 6th Air Cavalry Regiment from an Air Cavalry Squadron to an Attack Reconnaissance Squadron.
Col. Robert Werthman, outgoing brigade commander, and the brigade's Command Sgt. Maj. Lucio Vandevoorde replaced the 4-6th cavalry shield and crossed swords on squadron commander Lt. Col. Jay Klaus and the squadron's Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Spiva with the 16th CAB patch. This act signified the welcoming of the squadron to the brigade and the squadron conversion from an ACS to ARS.
Col. Werthman then relinquished command to Col. Dickerson with a symbolic passing of the colors.
"The mission endures even though the leaders change," said Maj. Gen. Raymond Palumbo, commanding general of U.S. Army Alaska and presiding officer over the day's ceremonies.
Palumbo praised the outgoing commander for his work and success growing the brigade and welcomed Col. Dickerson and his wife Shelley.
The split-based brigade will maintain a footprint in Alaska consisting of a command and control element, 1-52 General Support Aviation Battalion and 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment.
"16th CAB Alaska continues to hone its skills so that when our nation calls they'll be ready to go as well," Palumbo said.
Col. Werthman will become the executive officer to the deputy commander at Northern Command in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to command these past two years," said Werthman.
"I challenge you, Arctic Falcons, to live up to the credo that forged their very beginnings in Vietnam and serves as our rallying cry in times of trouble," he continued, addressing the Soldiers. "Our motto - that is as unique as the shoulder patch we proudly wear - the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 'Born in Battle'."
Speaking last, Col. Dickerson expressed the pride and excitement he experienced as he assumed responsibility of the command.
"Finally, we have an aviation brigade here to support the great Soldiers of I Corps," Dickerson said.
The arrival of the CAB means that JBLM will gain 1,400 new Soldiers and 44 helicopters between now and 2013. The brigade headquarters and four battalions will be located here to support mission, training and operations for the nine I Corps brigades and other major subordinate commands totaling more than 40,000 Soldiers and Airmen.
"We have many challenges ahead as we consolidate, build and train as part of the Army's newest aviation brigade," said Dickerson.
"Every one of you will have a part in writing the history of this brigade," he continued.
"I look forward to meeting those challenges and writing that history with all of you."