JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment donned the beret for the first time in more than 18 months to say farewell to Lt. Col. Kolin Bernardoni, who has led the organization for more than two years, and welcome a new leader, Lt. Col. Thomas Gordon Jr., who will continue the regiment's legacy.

The change of command ceremony was held Thursday, March 7 on Watkins Field and marked by one of the several days a year the base sees sunlight.

A change of command ceremony is a military tradition, designed to formally recognize the end of one command and the beginning of another, while allowing soldiers to hear from their new leader.

"A change of command is a significant event in the life of a unit. It marks the passage of one command's responsibility to another," said Col. Barry Huggins, commander of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

The 2-17 FA falls under the leadership of 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, or Lancers.

"If you look at the colors that we just passed, the streamers you see there tell a story," added Huggins. "The streamers you see in front of you have added to their history under the leadership of Lt. Col Bernardoni."

Streamers are awarded to units for many reasons, to include campaigns and valorous action in war. They mark critical points in the history of a unit, with each telling a different story.

"This has been an overwhelming experience with this tremendous battalion and brigade combat team. I am honored to have served alongside you (Huggins) and given the opportunity to lead these Lancer red legs," said Bernardoni, the outgoing commander of 2-17 FA.

The ceremony included an inspection of troops and finished with a pass and review. The inspection of troops allows for the incoming commander to inspect his soldiers, and the pass and review gives soldiers the opportunity to identify their leader.

Lt. Col. Gordon will replace Bernardoni, but each commander leaves their own distinctive mark on the organization they led, and it is every commander's responsibility to ensure the legacy of an organization continues.

"I look forward greatly to this honor I have been forwarded, and I do not take this responsibility lightly," said Gordon. "Thank you again. Steel strikes first!"