By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Fort Hood Herald
The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment said farewell Friday to its 72nd commander and hello to its 73rd in front of several past leaders of the Army's last armored cavalry regiment.
Col. Reginald Allen took over for Col. Michael Bills during a change of command ceremony at Cooper Field. Also during the ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. William Burns relinquished responsibility as the regiment's senior noncommissioned officer to Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Hunt.
"After many years in the Army and the many changes of command I have seen, I still have trouble finding words to adequately express my feelings at the goings and comings of great leaders like Command Sgt. Maj. Burns and Col. Bills," said Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, III Corps and Fort Hood commander. "They represent the Army values that we all strive for: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage, and they have impacted many lives in very positive ways during their time leading the Brave Rifles. Mike, command sergeant major, you will always be my heroes and I am humbled to be in your presence."
The regiment relocated to Fort Hood from Fort Carson, Colo., 33 months. It brought with it 453 soldiers, their families, no equipment and a "daunting task of standing up a footprint and organizational systems that had to be established by troops, companies and batteries with less than 50 soldiers," Bills said during the ceremony.
The regiment grew to 4,200 troopers with 2,200 pieces of combat and support equipment.
There was no rest, though, as units began preparing for a third deployment to Iraq. An 11-month period of individual and collective training, air and ground gunneries, artillery and mortar certification and platoon and troop evaluations was followed by a rotation to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.
The regiment deployed in October 2007 for 15 months of fighting, training and rebuilding.
Shortly after arriving in Iraq, the 2nd "Sabre" Squadron and the 1st "Tiger" Squadron's King Battery were sent to Diyala Province. The 4th "Longknife" Squadron was sent to Baghdad to support the 4th Infantry and then 10th Mountain Divisions. The rest of the regiment occupied northern Iraq's Nineveh Province and its capital, Mosul.
"You can take pride in knowing that the Mounted Riflemen who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom did so with tremendous distinction and honor," Bills said. "Our achievements have not been without costs and our losses were not in vain. Your unwavering dedication has helped alleviate the turmoil that consumed the Iraqi nation and today the people are buoyed by a growing hope in a bright and prosperous future."
The regiment returned to Fort Hood in January and February, and the colors were uncased Feb. 18. Bills hosted an Operation Iraqi Freedom Memorial dedication March 25.
"It has been my honor to serve as your regimental commander and I wish each and every one of you the very best," Bills said.
Bills' next assignment is as director of the Joint Advanced Warfighter Program at the Pentagon.
Allen last served as military assistant to the Secretary of the Army. He and his wife, Ingrid, have two children, Paris and Xavier.
Hunt last served as senior noncommissioned officer for the regiment's 1st Squadron. He and his wife, Jeanine, have two teenage sons.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7547.