By James David

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD – There was a sweeping change of commanders in the 4th Infantry Division's 4th Brigade here Thursday, when all six battalion commanders as well as the brigade commanders and their command sergeants major underwent the time-honored tradition of reading the orders and the passing of the guidons, or unit flags, to their successors.

The newest brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, the 4th Brigade, returned in December after a year in Iraq and earned its first combat streamer. The combat streamer is earned for each campaign a unit serves in and is attached to its guidon.

Friends, family members, distinguished guests and civic leaders turned out for the traditional ceremony and parade at Cameron Field on Thursday morning.

The brigade, which is nicknamed the "Cobra Brigade," trained and deployed more than 4,000 soldiers to Iraq in less than one year, a remarkable achievement, said Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, the 4th Infantry Division's commanding general.

"When Col. Michael Beech took over this command, it was nothing more than an idea," Hammond said. He had to train and deploy an entire brigade to the hardest parts of Baghdad in less than a year."

Taking over for Beech at the 4th Brigade is Col. Philip Battaglia, who is coming to the division from III Corps as the rear deputy commander.

"I am proud and deeply honored to join your team," Battaglia said. "I look forward to soldiering with you."

The two command sergeants major also passed the torch to each other. Outgoing Command Sgt. Maj. John Moody passed the guidon to Command Sgt. Maj. Edwin Rodriguez.

The following six battalions that make up the brigade changed commanders:

1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment: outgoing, Lt. Col. Robert Estey; incoming, Col. Edward Bohnemann

3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment: outgoing, Lt. Col. Mark Bertolini; incoming, Lt. Col. Scott Kendrick

8th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment; outgoing, Lt. Col. Gian Gentile; incoming, Lt. Col. Daryle Hernandez

2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment: outgoing, Lt. Col. Kirk Sessin; incoming, Lt. Col. Timothy Daugherty

704th Support Battalion: outgoing, Lt. Col. Victor Harmon; incoming, Lt. Col. Mark Simerly

4th Special Troops Battalion: outgoing, Lt. Col. Joseph Gandara; incoming, Lt. Col. Tim Norton

Making his final address as commander to his troops, Beech urged the new commanders to "strive and lead them to further heights and victories."

All of the new commanders have at least one Iraq tour under their belt, many with several.

"The brigade is in good hands," Hammond said.

Contact James David at or call (254) 501-7463

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