Fort Campbell, KY – The 101st Airborne Division held a Change of Command Ceremony which saw Maj. Gen. James C. McConville relinquish command of the 101st Airborne Division to his replacement Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky. The ceremony and passing of the division colors was presided over by Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command.
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.
During his remarks General Daniel B. Allyn praised the soldiers and families of the 101st Airborne Division for the service and sacrifice, “Members of this mighty divisions steadfastly and courageously answer our nation’s call at every rendezvous with destiny! And the screaming Eagles deliver with a resounding legacy of success, time and time again!”
13,600 soldiers stood on the division parade field for the change of command ceremony. This number included soldiers representing several of the tenant units based at Fort Campbell, which are not a part of the 101st Airborne Division but who took part in the ceremony as a sign of their respect for Maj. Gen. James C. McConville.
McConville has led the 101st Airborne Division for 34 months, which saw the division undergo multiple deployments. As Combined Joint Task Force – 101 and Regional Command East, the 101st Airborne Division enabled the Afghan National Security Forces to take the lead as they assumed responsibility for the security of their country.
Even with most of the 101st Airborne Division being here at home, elements of the division are currently serving in Afghanistan including the 2nd Brigade Combat Team and the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade.
During his remarks Maj. Gen. McConville took a moment to reflect on his time as a part of the world’s only air assault division.
“Knowing this is my last day in this wonderful division, and with a Pentagon assignment forthcoming, I can tell you that I will truly miss these great days at the 101st,” said McConville. “There’s something special about serving in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell.”
McConville has been nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general, and will be assigned to the Pentagon where he will serve as the deputy chief of staff, G-1 for the U.S. Army.
Maj. Gen. Volesky is the 45th commander of the world-famous 101st Airborne Division, and is coming off of a tour as the the chief of public affairs for the United States Army.
“As we all know, the position I assume today comes with great responsibility,” said Volesky. “I want you to know I’ll give you one hundred and ten percent every day. Together we will build on the phenomenal reputation of our division.”
Interview with Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky
The Change of Command Ceremony