Change-of-Command and a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Hancock Field

  • Published
  • By Capt. Anthony L. Bucci
  • 174th Fighter Wing, Public Affairs
On Sunday of the June Unit Training Assembly a change-of-command ceremony took place followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony led by the incoming commander at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, NY.

In a ceremony officiated by Col Kevin W. Bradley, 174th Fighter Wing Commander and assisted by the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron First Sergeant William Schroeder, the transfer of command from Lt. Col. Alberto Gaston to Maj. Patrick Cox took place on June 5th in front of the new 274th ASOS.

The official party, consisting of Col. Bradley, Lt. Col. Gaston, Maj. Cox and 1st. Sgt. Schroeder, were introduced by Lt. Col Maureen Murphy the Master of Ceremony for the change of command and ribbon cutting ceremony taking their place center stage. The official party stood in front of fellow unit members, veterans, families and friends in front a newly renovated 274th ASOS facility.

Col. Bradley said a few words to the audience and welcomed everyone to this change of command ceremony as well as the ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly renovated 274th ASOS.

"Under Lt. Col. Gaston's leadership he helped the 274th ASOS prepare, plan and execute a successful deployment to Afghanistan, in fact the 274th ASOS deployed for 279 days the longest such deployment by an Air National Guard ASOS unit, with all unit members returning safely", said Col. Bradley.

"I want to 'Thank' my wife Stephanie and daughter Olivia for everything they do, as everyone knows it is always harder on the families and Stephanie is my rock" said a clearly emotional Lt. Col. Gaston. He went on to "Thank" the men and women of the 274th ASOS for everything they have done for him, the unit and their country. Lt. Col. Gaston specifically cited the members of the 274th ASOS as the reason he was wearing the newly pinned Meritorious Service Medal on his uniform.

Following Lt. Col. Gaston's comments the official party was called into position by Lt. Col. Murphy and the official Change of Command Ceremony began to take place. Lt. Col. Gaston, who took command in November 2008, took the guidon from 1st. Sgt. Schroeder and handed it back to Col. Bradley officially relinquishing his command of the 274th ASOS.

With that Lt. Col. Bradley took the guidon and passed it to Maj. Cox, thereby assuming command of the 274th ASOS and effectively concluding the Chain of Command ceremony. With that Maj. Cox step to the podium and thanked Col. Bradley and Lt. Col. Gaston for the opportunity and then addressed the audience with some inspirational words.

"I look forward to leading you fine men and women of the 274th ASOS and am privledged to have this opportunity to lead you in this extremely vital mission", said Maj. Cox

Maj. Cox "Crosses into the Blue" after spending 15 years in the United States Marine Corps with various command position his most recent being in 2003 as the Commanding Officer, B Company, 8th Tank Battalion, 4th Maine Division.

Once the Change of Command Ceremony was completed the official were joined by Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Robert A. Knauff, Former 174th Fighter Wing Commander, Brig. Gen. Tony German, New York Air National Guard Chief of Staff, Col. Richard Smith, Former 274th ASOS Commander, Col. Earl Evans, 174th FW Mission Support Group Commander, Maj. James Oaksford, 174th FW Civil Engineer (Lead Engineer on this project) and Chief Master Sgt. Brian Gaulke, 274th ASOS.

This new 274th ASOS facility is part of an ANG nationwide effort to properly house the ten Air National Guard ASOS units in state-of-the-art facilities. This facility incorporates ANG DoD goals for efficiency and cost effectiveness,. This project took advantage of an opportunity to re-utilize existing facility infrastructure, combining renovation with a 17,000 square foot addition, thereby halving the overall cost of the project. Furthermore, this new facility incorporates leadership in energy and environmental design silver sustainable design attributes to include natural lighting, building envelope efficiency and rapidly renewable resources.

The mission of the 274th ASOS is to deploy with designated Army combat units to provide command, control, and coordination of Close Air Support aircraft. The 274th ASOS normally deploys in small Tactical Air Control Party teams. A typical operations team is called a Tactical Air Control Team and consists of two members. A support team would include a mix of specialists such as radio maintenance, power production, vehicle maintenance, supply logistics or administrative support. The squadron can also be tasked to deploy as a complete unit.

The Custom of the Change of Command is to acknowledge the change of the commanding officer of a military unit in a formal ceremony that traces its origin to Roman times. The ceremony emphasizes the continuity of leadership and unit identity despite changes in individual authority.

The Change of Command ceremony symbolizes the transfer of command responsibility from one individual to another. The transfer is physically represented by the passing of the Unit Colors, the tangible symbol of the unit, from the outgoing commander, to the next senior commander, and then to the new commander.