FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (Army News Service, Feb. 8, 2008) -- With the passing of the United States Army Pacific colors, the service component command changed leadership Feb. 1 on historic Palm Circle.

As sun bathed the parade field between rain showers, Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon replaced Lt. Gen. John M. Brown III, who steps down after three and a half years as USARPAC commanding general.

Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander, U.S. Pacific Command, passed the colors from Brown to Mixon.

"They'll be a rustle in the ranks tomorrow when for the first time since the early '70s, Lt. Gen. Brown will not be there for muster...," Keating said, "but we'll realize in a big hurry that Randy Mixon is with us, as is Rhonda (Mixon). "He's proved his mettle in battle. Much will be required of him and his family in the months and years ahead, but they are up to the task."

Mixon relinquished command of the 25th Infantry Division to Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek at Schofield Barracks Jan. 30. He was commander of the Tropic Lightning Division during its recent 15-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom where he served as the Multi-National Division-North commander.

"As we prepare Army forces to deploy, I am committed to ensure that we protect the environment and the sensitive cultural concerns of all the citizens of the areas in the Pacific," Mixon said. "I intend to work with all concerned citizens to achieve a balance between training and our mission, to protect the environment and to protect our cultural concerns. Ideally, we can work together for the good of our nation."

Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona Jr. was also on hand to farewell the Browns and to welcome the Mixons. During his speech, he proclaimed his support for the Army in Hawaii.

Aiona recognized Brown for his service to USARPAC and Hawaii. During his speech, he thanked Brown for a job well done.

"It's my great honor to be here today, on behalf of the people of the State of Hawaii to say thanks to Gen. Brown for everything that he's done," Aiona said, "to let him know that we appreciate the trials and tribulations that he's gone through during his command here in the Pacific."

"We are here to support and assist (Mixon) in every way possible," he added. "We understand the challenges you have ahead of you, and we're here to stand side by side."

Before the change of command ceremony, Brown officiated in a ceremony to appoint Mixon lieutenant general.

"It's been an honor and personal highlight to pass this command to Randy Mixon," Brown said. "He and Rhonda are already members of the great USARPAC family. They are a talented, dedicated, passionate, and are absolutely the right couple to move this command forward to meet the challenges of tomorrow."

During the ceremony, the Department of the Army awarded the Army Superior Unit Award to USARPAC. Brown and Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Zettlemoyer, USARPAC command sergeant major, added the streamer to the colors and Sgt. Jasmar Briscoe, personnel noncommissioned officer, received the award for all the Soldiers assigned to USARPAC from Jan. 1, 2004 to Oct. 31, 2006. Any Soldier who served with USARPAC during these dates is authorized to wear the Army Superior Unit Award.

"We salute the Soldiers of the finest Army we have ever known," Keating said. "They stand before us today. They are very well equipped; they are very well trained; and they are very well educated. Their tactics, techniques, procedures, and doctrine are the best of any army ever. But one thing that distinguishes that Soldier, he or she is very well-led and for that, we can thank Lt. Gen. John Brown."

Brown also was honored during a retirement ceremony held before the change of command, receiving a Distinguished Service Cross for his more than 38 years of military service. His wife, Elaine, was also awarded the Public Service Award for her "enthusiastic and creative contributions" to USARPAC.

Speaking of his wife, Brown said, "I've watched her represent our nation in front of all army spouses, in audiences with queens, first ladies and spouses of army leaders across the Asia Pacific, but I've also seen her on her knees in a pair of dirty jeans on the Shafter thrift shop floor... I've watched her befriend young Army spouses and help them through their first deployments and separation in their careers. It's been an interesting and rewarding journey and I would not have made it with anyone else. Thank you."

"I will never forget that in this position I have been given, it's all about the Soldiers you see on the field in front of you," Mixon said. "One Team and God bless America."

(Sgt. 1st Class Jason Shepherd serves with United States Army Pacific Public Affairs.)