FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 21, 2012) -- Fort Rucker welcomed the new commander of the 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment during a ceremony at Howze Field June 19.

The unit colors were passed from the outgoing commander, Lt. Col. Darren V. Cox, to Col. Brian D. Bennett, 1st Aviation Brigade commander, to the incoming commander, Lt. Col. Steven M. Pierce, to signify the transfer of command from one commander to the next.

Pierce thanked Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, and Bennett for the opportunity to lead the 1-13th and said he was humbled to be afforded the opportunity.

"I can think of no greater honor in our profession than being charged to lead America's sons and daughters," he said. "It is with the welfare of these Soldiers and their Families in the forefront of my mind that I assume my duties today."

Pierce is from Chambersburg, Pa. and is a Senior Army Aviator qualified to operate the UH-1, OH-58A/C and OH-58D. Some of his assignments and duties range from platoon leader, 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment and regimental Aviation officer of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C., to instructor for the Army Joint Support Team, Hurlburt Field, Fla., which, according to Bennett, makes him qualified to lead the 1-13th.

"Steve's background, energy and commitment are clear, and I'm certain that he will continue to produce world-class Soldiers for our Aviation force," he said. "We are fortunate to have [Pierce] to continue to serve the Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment. Steve and [his wife], Ingrid, along with their three daughters … are on board and ready to lead this battalion towards excellence."

The incoming commander also thanked Cox and his wife, Kim, for welcoming him and his Family.

Cox served as the 1st Bn., 13th Avn. Regt. commander for the past two years and in that time his leadership trained Soldiers, air traffic controllers and Aviation operations specialists; prepared, trained and deployed Aviation and police Soldiers for combat overseas; and worked with the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation and other agencies to coordinate the 2011 Wounded Warrior Fall Hunt, which raised more than $60,000 for Fort Rucker and Wiregrass wounded warriors, said Bennett.

"Darren Cox has served his battalion, our brigade and Fort Rucker admirably," he said. "His leadership has fostered inspirational commanders and [Noncommissioned officers] that I've had the privilege of being a part of."

Cox said that serving as the commander of the 1st Bn., 13th Avn. Regt. was an honor and privilege, and thanked his leaders for their confidence in him and his Family for their support, adding that he could not have accomplished anything without his Family behind him.

He also expressed his confidence in Pierce as the new battalion commander.

"I'm grateful that I can hand over the battalion to an officer who not only deserves to lead these great men and women, but who this battalion deserves to be led by," said Cox. "Lieutenant Colonel Steve Pierce is the right officer for the job, and I know that he and Ingrid will take care of these Soldiers."

As the ceremony came to a close, Pierce addressed the Soldiers of the unit and the outgoing commander, and commended him for his leadership and commitment to the Soldiers of the 1-13th.

"I will strive to lead the battalion with distinction, just as you have over the last two years," he said. "To the Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment, I salute you and I look forward to our time together."