Fort Campbell, KY – The 101st Combat Aviation Brigade will receive a new commander June 24th, 2011, at 9:30am during a ceremony on the division parade field when Col. William K. Gayler relinquishes command to Col. Paul Bontrager.
Gayler has commanded the 101st CAB since 2009. During his tenure, the brigade deployed to southern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Under Gayler’s command, the brigade provided Army aviation support for U.S. and NATO operations in Regional Command-South, West and Southwest from February 2010 to March 2011.
Bontrager currently commands Flight Concepts Division, Fort Eustis, Virginia, but is no stranger to Fort Campbell.
Bontrager enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1982 and served with the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division. After his enlisted tour, he graduated from Austin Peay State University as a ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate. In 1989, he was assigned to B Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, Fort Campbell, Kentucky where he served as platoon leader, assistant S3 and cavalry liaison to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) until 1993 He returned again to Fort Campbell in 1996 to command the 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment until 2008.
All 101st CAB battalions will be represented at the ceremony, which will also include a pass and review of the troops by the incoming and outgoing commanders.
Colonel William K. Gayler
Col. William K. Gayler is a Distinguished Military Graduate of North Georgia College in Dahlonega, GA. There he received a Bachelor of Business Administration and was commissioned as an aviation officer.
Upon completing the Officer Basic Course and Flight School, he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 2nd Armored Division, Fort Hood, Texas where he served as a scout platoon leader and liaison officer. After Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, he was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, KY where he served as an assistant operations officer. Following the Career Course, he was reassigned to Europe. There he commanded C Co., 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, Hanau, Germany. He later commanded D Co., 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment and deployed his company as part of Operation Joint Endeavor to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Completing his tour in Europe, he was assigned as the aide-de-camp to the commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Center and Fort Rucker, AL. He later served as the commander of A Co., 1st Battalion, 14th Aviation Regiment responsible for all AH-64D Longbow individual operator and maintainer training.
Following the Command and General Staff College, he served again at Fort Campbell, KY as a battalion operations officer and executive officer with 2nd Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment. While assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as the brigade operations officer and executive officer of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade. He later served as the deputy director of the Directorate of Evaluations and Standardization at Fort Rucker, AL. From May 2005 to June 2007, he commanded 3rd Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment (Attack) and deployed his battalion in support of OIF 05-07. Following command, he attended the National War College in Washington D.C. His current assignment is commander of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
His military education includes Aviation Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Joint Firepower Control Course, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, Command and General Staff College, and the National War College.
He holds two Master’s Degrees, one in Master of Military Arts and Science and another in National Security Strategy.
Some of Col. Gayler’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Award, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal and Army Commendation Medal. He has been awarded the Air Assault Badge, Master Army Aviator Badge and is a member of the Honorable Order of St. Michael (Bronze Award).
Col. Gayler is married to the former Michele Nash of Atlanta, GA and has three daughters, Katie, Maggie and Samantha.
Colonel Paul Bontrager
Originally from Goshen, IN, Colonel Paul Bontrager enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1982. Following his enlisted tour, which he spent in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Colonel Bontrager graduated from Austin Peay State University as a ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. He also holds a Masters of Science degree in Education from Kansas State University and a Master of Science Degree in Joint Campaign Planning and Strategy from the National Defense University. Colonel Bontrager is a graduate of the Aviation Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Cavalry Leaders Course, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the Joint Advanced Warfighting School.
In 1989 Colonel Bontrager completed Initial Entry Rotary Wing training and was assigned to B Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, Fort Campbell, Kentucky where he served as Platoon Leader, Assistant S3, and Cavalry Liaison to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). In 1993 he was assigned to the 501st Aviation Battalion (Attack), Camp Page, Korea where he served as the Assistant Operations Officer and the B Company Commander. In 1994 Colonel Bontrager was assigned to 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina where he served as the Assistant Operations Officer, and then the C Troop Commander. In 1997 he was assigned to 3rd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, Fort Knox, Kentucky where he served as Chief of Air Cavalry Operations for the U.S. Army Armor Center. In 1998 Colonel Bontrager was assigned to Flight Concepts Division, Fort Eustis, Virginia where he served in numerous staff and command positions. In 2006 Colonel Bontrager assumed command of the 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, Fort Campbell, Kentucky where he commanded until 2008 when he returned to Fort Eustis, Virginia to command Flight Concepts Division.
Colonel Bontrager’s awards and badges include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal w/4 OLC, Defense Meritorious Service Medal w/1 OLC, Meritorious Service Medal w/1 OLC, Air Medal w/numeral 2, Army Commendation Medal w/3 OLC, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal w/2 OLC, Good Conduct Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary and Service Medals, Korean Defense Service Medal, NATO Medals, MFO Medal, Kuwaiti Liberation Medal, Meritorious Unit Citation and the Master Army Aviator, Air Assault, Master Parachutist, Combat Action and Military Free Fall Badges, German Free Fall Wings and the Ranger Tab.
Paul is married to the former Kelly Gilligan of Lackawanna, New York. They have one son, Zachary, who is a senior at the Virginia Military Institute and one daughter, Katie, who is a sophomore at the University of Alabama.