FORT HOOD — Col. Kevin Vizzarri described his replacement as commander of First Army Division West’s 166th Aviation Brigade as “the real deal,” during a Monday morning command-change ceremony at Cameron Field.
After two years leading the “Greywing” Brigade, Vizzarri relinquished his post to Col. Christopher Albus.
“Greywings, I can tell you, you are getting a great commander who is a perfect replacement,” he said.
Vizzarri, who is married with two young sons, is retiring after 25 years as an Army officer.
As the only aviation brigade in First Army, the 166th mobilizes, trains and validates Reserve component aviation units, consisting of 48 percent of all U.S. Army aviation assets, to meet the needs of combatant commanders.
Trust between the active and Reserve components was key to the brigade’s success, Vizzarri said.
“Col. Vizzarri has had a high visibility ... training mission to carry out,” said Maj. Gen. Warren Phipps, division commander.
Under his leadership, Greywing soldiers trained 43 units and more than 5,470 soldiers. That added up to more than 15,000 flight hours using 345 helicopters, Phipps said.
“Under their charge, the 166th Aviation Brigade has been an exemplary standout in our division,” he said.
Vizzarri also oversaw the move of the brigade’s environmental training from Albuquerque, N.M., to Fort Bliss, saving more than $100,000 on every eight-day rotation, or about $1.6 million a year.
Albus joined the Greywings with his spouse, Christine, and three children from West Fort Hood’s Operational Test Command, where he served as director of the U.S. Aviation Test Directorate.
“I’m fully confident in your leadership, competence and character,” Phipps said. “The 166th will be great in your hands.”
Also during the ceremony, the brigade’s Command Sgt. Maj. Glen Vela relinquished the noncommissioned officers’ sword to Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Bailey, who most recently served with Fort Hood’s Warrior Transition Brigade.
The Army hasn’t announced Vela’s next assignment.