Fort Campbell, KY – The 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) held a change of command ceremony on Friday July 22nd, 2011. Col. Andrew P. Poppas relinquished command to Col. Joseph P. McGee before the entire brigade.
The change of command ceremony is rooted in military history dating back to the 18th century during the reign of Frederick the Great of Prussia. At that time, organizational flags were developed with color arrangements and symbols unique to each particular unit. To this flag and its commander, the soldiers of the unit would dedicate their loyalty and trust. When a change of command takes place, the flag is taken from the outgoing commander and then passed to the individual assuming the command by their superior officer. This gesture is done in front of the unit so that all could see and witness their new leader assuming his dutiful position. He who holds the flag also holds the soldier’s allegiance. This symbolic tradition has survived throughout military history.
Shortly before the change of command ceremony Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell held a small awards ceremony. Col. Poppas received the Legion of Merit for his outstanding performance as the commanding officer of the 1st Brigade Combat Team. Mrs. T. C. Freeman also presented Col. Poppas with a certificate proclaiming him a Kentucky Colonel.
The Change of Command Ceremony began with the recognizing of the VIP guests who were in attendance. They were Mr. William Harpel, Civilian Aide for the Secretary of the Army for Tennessee East, and 2010 Champion of Fort Campbell; Mr. Jack Turner Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Tennessee West, and 2010 Champion of Fort Campbell; Mrs. T. C. Freeman Civilian Aide for the Secretary of the Army for Kentucky Central, and 2010 Champion of Fort Campbell; Col. Bob Freeman, U.S. Army Retired, and Champion of Fort Campbell; Maj. Gen John F. Campbell, Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and Mrs. Campbell; ergeant Major Scott Schroeder, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Post Sergeant Major, and Mrs Schroeder; Mrs. Nancy Colt, Wife of Brig. Gen. Jeffery N. Colt, Deputy Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault); Col Ted “The Wild Turkey” Crozier, U.S. Army Ret., and 2010 Champion of Fort Campbell; Mr. Phil Harpel, 2010 Champion of Fort Campbell; Col. Pete Johnson, Chief of Staff of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and Mrs. Johnson.
The Invocation was given by the 1st Brigade Combat Team Chaplin Moon Kim.
Following the Invocation, The Adjutant called out “Sound Attention,” this is a call of alarm during which the soldiers turn out under arms and officially begins the ceremony. The Adjutant then called out “Sound Adjutants’ Call”, this indicated the Adjutant was about to form the brigade. The sound of the trumpets call rippled across the field.
Maj. Michael Bliss, the 1st Brigade Combat Team’s Executive Officer serving as The Commander of Troops for the ceremony and the brigade staff took their positions on the field. They were saluted by the assembled troops.
The reviewing party which consisted of Col. Poppas the outgoing commander and Col. McGee the incoming commander took the field. They were then saluted by the assembled troops.
The entire brigade then rendered honors to Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) commanding officer.
The Commander of Troops reported to the Brigade Commander, “Sir, the brigade is present” which Col. Poppas acknowledged.
Now it was time for Col. Poppas to inspect his troops one last time, as Col. McGee accompanied him. The announcer read a history of the brigade. Following the inspection the reviewing party resumed their position in front of the reviewing stand.
At this point in what is the most visually stunning part of the ceremony, it was time for the officers of the units and the various colors to advance to an assembly point; then when they were all in place they were marched en masse to a spot before the reviewing stand where the official handing off of the brigade colors and the command would take place.
The brigade and those in attendance then rendered Honors to the Nation, as the National Anthem was played.
Maj. Gen. Campbell, the reviewing officer joined up with the reviewing party. Then they marched on the field to pass the brigade colors.
The Custodian of the Colors, Command Sgt. Major Kevin Benson, the senior enlisted soldier in the unit and principle advisor to the commander then removed the 1st Brigade colors from the hands of the brigade color bearer Spc. Jeffery Howard; the color bearer exemplifies the high standards of discipline, conduct, and military expertise that go with the responsibility of carrying the flag that means so much to his fellow soldiers. Benson handed the brigade colors to Col. Poppas. Then Maj. Gen. Campbell then took them placed them in the hands of Col. McGee.
Now it was time to pass the regimental colors for this Honorary Colonel of the Regiment Col Lou McDonald, U.S. Army Ret; and Honorary Sergeant major, Command SGT Maj. Joseph Bossi, U.S. Army Ret. took the field. McDonald took the colors from the regimental color bearer and passed them to Col Poppas. Eaves then removed the colors from his hands and placed them in Col. McGee’s hands.
With the command transferred the reviewing party and honorary regimental leaders walked from the field, and a vigorous round of applause broke out.
Spc. Christopher A. Wagner presented a bouquet of flowers to Col McGee’s Mother Lorett, and a 101st coin to each of his sons Patrick and Aiden on behalf of the officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers of the brigade welcoming them in to the Bastogne family.
Maj. Gen. Campbell then took the podium to make a few remarks.
[wpaudio url=”http://www.mediafire.com/file/n58eo735atcu9a0/Maj.%20Gen.%20John%20F.%20Campbell.mp3″ text=”Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell’s Remarks” dl=”0″]
He was followed by Col. Poppas.
[wpaudio url=”http://www.mediafire.com/file/dtlj4twttdhd92g/Col.%20Poppas.mp3″ text=”Col. Poppas’s Remarks” dl=”0″]
Closing out the remarks was the new commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team Col. McGee.
[wpaudio url=”http://www.mediafire.com/file/d4ep4qjqplz9x9e/Col.%20McGee.mp3″ text=”Col. McGee’s Remarks” dl=”0″]
Then the soldiers passed in review, closing out the ceremony.
After the ceremony, Col. Poppas made himself available to well wishers.
Awards Presentation Cerermony
Change of Command