Maj. Gen. Paul T. Calvert took command of the 1st Cavalry Division from Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson III on Tuesday during a change of command ceremony at Cooper Field presided over by U.S. Forces Command commander Gen. Robert B. Abrams.

During the ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. Maurice Jackson also handed over responsibility as the First Team command sergeant major to Command Sgt. Maj. Shane E. Pospisil.

Jackson relinquished the division colors to Thomson, who then passed it to Abrams as a symbol of leaving his duties as the unit’s commander. Abrams then handed the colors to Calvert as a symbol of his new command, who in turn passed it to Pospisil as a symbol of the his trust in the senior enlisted leader to maintain the dignity and discipline of the unit.

The division’s former command team won’t be going very far, however, nor will they be breaking up their team. Thomson immediately took over as the deputy commanding general for maneuver of III Corps and Fort Hood and will serve as the corps’ senior officer while the corps’ commander, Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, is deployed to the Middle East for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

Jackson will serve as Thomson’s senior enlisted leader as the III Corps home station command sergeant major.

“It’s been a terrific day — it’s the old saying, I’m having a deja vu all over again,” said Abrams, a former commander of the division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team. “As I said in my remarks, I’ve stood on this field in over 50 ceremonies during three different tours in the 1st Cavalry Division. Every unit I’ve been in is fantastic, but this is a special place.”

Abrams said it was an honor to fill in for Funk as the reviewing officer of the ceremony and to welcome the four senior leaders to their new positions.

“This storied division is comprised of tough, disciplined soldiers who are tactical and technical experts in their field. They are committed and dedicated to their profession,” he said.

Abrams added that he has known Calvert since he himself was a major and Calvert was a captain, both in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

“There is no finer combat leader and cavalryman that you’re going to find in the Army today than Paul Calvert,” he said. “He is a soldier’s soldier, exceptionally humble, and you can expect to see this division trained to a very high level.”

Calvert said it was truly an honor to take command of the division, which currently has 18,000 soldiers — approximately 9,000 of which will be in a deployed status by mid-October.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to be with soldiers, day in and day out,” Calvert said. “It’s an absolute honor — it’s something you never think about. You serve because you still have a passion for soldiers, a passion for our mission and what we do for our nation, and you’re willing to do whatever is asked of you. Just to have the opportunity to be a part of this formation and be one of the members of the First Team is an honor.”

For Thomson, giving up command wasn’t easy.

“It’s a bittersweet day, but it’s not about an individual, it’s about an organization,” he said. “First Team’s going to continue to do great things. I hate to be leaving — if it was my choice, I’d stay, but such is life.”

Thomson added that he looks forward to his new duties as the III Corps deputy commander and keeping Fort Hood “The Great Place” for both the post and the surrounding communities.

“The good news is I don’t have to go far — I have to take this great patch off and put a corps patch on,” he said, pointing to the unit patch on his sleeve. “The best thing is, getting to be around soldiers. I wasn’t kidding when I said I’m happy I wasn’t going to the Pentagon — that’s important work there, but we get to stay around the troopers and their families (at Fort Hood) and that’s a great day.”

dbryant@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7554

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