By JESSICA JACKSONAugust 14, 2012
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Mississippi National Guardsmen Capt. Antwann Evans, Starkville, Miss. native, took command of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 223rd Engineer Battalion, Mississippi National Guard, during a change of command ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 13.
"I have waited my whole career for this opportunity," exclaimed Evans. "I am very honored and plan to make the best of this. I plan to lead this company to best of my ability."
The change of command ceremony is a formal event officially transferring responsibility and authority from the outgoing to the incoming commander. The outgoing commander addresses his company or unit for the last time, and the incoming commander can officially speak to his company for the first time.
Evans assumed command from Mississippi National Guardsmen Maj. Gary Tolbert who spent the last 18 months commanding the company and leading them during Operation Enduring Freedom.
"It's been a real privilege to command such a professional group. I can remember the day we had to leave our friends and family, back at West Point, Miss. The courage on each of the soldier's faces was inspiring. It made me proud to be associated with such a group."
Receiving his commission in the Corps of Engineers from the Mississippi State University, Evans also holds a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. His previous assignments include assistant intelligence officer with the 223rd Engineer Battalion, platoon leader at the 858th Horizontal Company in Calhoun City, Miss., and most recently the engineer plans officer for the 223rd Engineer Battalion As a civilian, Evans specialized in cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation at the Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
"Being in the National Guard, it's uncommon for leaders to receive this type of interaction with his/her soldiers," said Evans. "So it's imperative that I take advantage of everyday with my soldiers before we return to regular drill status."
The 223rd Engineer Battalion is set to redeploy next month, concluding their 12-month deployment. While eager to work with his new company, Evans understands the difficulty of receiving a company during this process.
"This will surely be a challenge, but a welcomed one; one that I intend to take head-on, stated Evans. "I know I have a good foundation to start with and strong NCOs, this combination ensures we'll be successful in getting our job done and getting our Soldiers home safely."
Before relinquishing his command, Tolbert offered a word of advice to the incoming commander.
"It's bitter sweet having to relinquish command and I'll miss the challenge," stated Tolbert. "However, I'd advise Capt. Evans to embrace the challenge. Take time and enjoy as much as he can because like all good things it comes to an end."
Eager to take command, Evans concluded, "I know the standards have been heavily enforced throughout HHC, but I plan to push those standards to new levels. My command will be based on three principles; pride, training and team building. I hope to make this unit stronger by reinforcing the bond that holds us together so that we will work as one."