FORT HOOD — As Col. John B. Richardson IV took the microphone for the last time as the commander of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, he said nothing fires him up more than seeing a sea of red and white flags on a parade field, blowing in the breeze.
“I’m the luckiest officer in the United States Army. Serving with the Brave Rifles has been the greatest experience of my life and one that I will cherish forever,” said Richardson, who relinquished his position as the 74th commander of the storied regiment during a ceremony Thursday morning at Cameron Field.
“In the cavalry we never say goodbye,” he said as a receiving line filled with soldiers, leaders and civilian community members ended. “We say, ‘Until the next post.’ Goodbye is too final.”
During his nearly two years in command, Richardson led the regiment through its transition from an armored unit to a Stryker brigade, which began in November 2011. Not only did that mean trading tanks for Strykers, it also meant rotating about 3,000 troopers — losing tankers and gaining infantrymen — all while keeping the spirit and traditions of the regiment alive. Richardson referred to this transition as a “seismic shift.”
He reminded troopers and veterans that even though the equipment for battle changed, the essence of the unit is still strong.
“Our organization changed, but the culture of the organization was maintained and the tradition and the lineage carried on,” Richardson said. “All soldiers want to be a part of a unique, elite or special organization.”
Throughout the transition — which also meant preparing and training troops for a spring rotation at the National Training Center — Richardson said his three priorities for success were leader development, creating a learning organization and developing team players.
Richardson and his family are headed to Washington, D.C.
Arriving as the 75th colonel of the regiment is Col. Cameron M. Cantlon, who previously served in the regiment, as well as at the 1st Cavalry Division and III Corps. He most recently finished time at the Army War College in Pennsylvania.
“I’m humbled by the privilege to take command,” he said.
Cantlon said he intends to grow upon the team Richardson built.
Brig. Gen. Joseph Martin, deputy commander of maneuver for the 1st Cavalry Division, oversaw the ceremony, and said Cantlon was inheriting an incredible organization firing on all cylinders.
“I’m certain that in the relay, the baton will not be dropped by these two in transition,” Martin said. “The next leg of the race will be run at the same level of urgency and tenacity.”
Read more about Richardson’s work to transition the 3rd Cavalry Regiment in Wednesday’s Fort Hood Herald.