By Glen Paddie, Fort Campbell Courier staffSeptember 12, 2011
FORT CAMPBELL, KY, September 12, 2011--The 52nd Ordnance Group held a change of command ceremony at the Passenger Processing Center Sept. 1, which lasted a little more than a half-an-hour.
Colonel Marue R. Quick took command from Col. Thomas Langowski during the uncasing ceremony.
According to the ceremony moderator -- "uncasing the colors at the ceremony symbolized the 52nd had successfully returned from Afghanistan and were reassuming their stateside duties and training mission. Tradition holds that colors lead their units into battle, emphasized by the regulation containing instructions to the color-bearer, which states, 'when in action, resolve not to part with the colors, but with your life.' The passing of the colors from the old to new commander is significant as the transition is symbolic of the transfer of command responsibility to a new leader."
The Soldier entrusted with protecting the 52nd's colors will continue to be Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Hockstedler, who served under Langowski and will continue to serve under Quick.
The 52nd was joined at the ceremony by Soldiers from the 63rd Ordnance Battalion, 184th Ordnance Battalion and the 194th Ordnance Battalion.
The 52nd was originally constituted on Dec. 20, 1943. Seven days later, the 52nd EOD was activated at Camp Hood, Texas.
Since that time, the unit has been inactivated and activated several times and also spent time at Fort Bragg and Fort Gillem, Ga. before settling at Fort Campbell in June of 2009.
The 52nd has served in combat campaigns in World War II, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The senior reviewing officer for the ceremony was Brig. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, commanding general of the 20th Support Command, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., which oversees the 52nd Ordnance Group, among others.
"There is no doubt it takes a team effort to accomplish the EOD mission, but it starts at the top," said Smith. "Colonel Langowski and Command Sergeant Major Hockstedler have set the standards in multiple facets for our team."
Smith lauded Langowski's efforts as the 52nd EOD commander, along with his Family who has been by his side while he was leading Soldiers downrange and helping save many lives.
"I call them the little Langowski's -- it's like a little group of paratroopers -- but Langowski's," laughed Smith. "I want to thank you for taking the time to take care of Soldiers and bringing them back safely from Afghanistan."
Smith then turned to Quick and Langowski recognizing them both as effective leaders.
"President Teddy Roosevelt once said, 'real service is rendered by the person who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly'," said Smith. "I see the dust and the sweat and I know the strain and I'm proud of what you stand for and what you have achieved."
As Smith gave up the mike, Langowski stepped forward and spoke through a voice laden with humility, remembrance and gratitude.
"As I reflect on the last 12 months and the success we had in Afghanistan, I begin by considering that in the past year, we exploded close to 18,000 improvised explosive devices," he said. "Now imagine what the casualty rate would have been had it not been for the EOD teams?"
Langowski said he would be remiss not to remember that the 52nd EOD's success in Afghanistan came at a high price.
"Captain Jason T. McMahon, Specialist Joshua T. Lancaster, Staff Sergeant Chauncey R. Mayes, Specialist Christopher G. Starks and Staff Sergeant Michael J. Garcia all made the ultimate sacrifice for our great nation," added Langowski. "These Soldiers will never be forgotten."
Langowski thanked his former Soldiers, command team, the 101st Airborne Division and everyone in attendance before saying goodbye and handing the mike over to the 52nd EOD's new leader.
"I promise to give you my best…my utmost to continue the great tradition of excellence in the 52nd," said Quick. "I do not enter this endeavor lightly, but with great enthusiasm and a deep desire to make a difference, while having a lot of fun along the way.
Quick said to the Soldiers standing before her that they looked outstanding and they should be proud of who they are and what they do as they stand on point everyday for our nation.
"Your magnificent appearance and execution is an absolute inspiration," she added. "I look forward to working with the community, the 101st, the 20th leading up to our next 'rendezvous with destiny' while 'diffusing danger.'"
Quick wasn't out of the ceremony five minutes before she was approached by a local police officer asking advice on how to handle bomb threats off-post.
"Hey, we'll be glad to help if we can," Quick said. "We live for that."