By Rose L. Thayer
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD - Before taking command of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Col. Douglas Crissman said he'd never worn a Stetson, never owned a pickup truck and hadn't ridden a horse since childhood.
He'd never been to Fort Hood, either.
But, he said, during his change of command ceremony on Thursday, "After 26 months on the Greywolf command team, I think it's safe to say that (my wife) and I bleed black and gold. It's safe to say we've become full-fledged members of the First Team."
The ceremony on Fort Hood's Cooper Field included musical performances from the 1st Cavalry Division Band and a cavalry charge by the 1st Cavalry Division Horse Detachment. Sitting in the front row to show support were Crissman's wife, Carolyn, his two children and his parents.
"I do believe that it's true that this patch that I now proudly wear on both shoulders makes our soldiers work just a little harder, stand just a little taller and serve with just a little more pride in being part of the legend that is America's only cavalry division," said the outgoing colonel.
Crissman, an infantryman, led the brigade through its historic deployment to the four southern provinces of Iraq in February 2011. Greywolf conducted combat operations to defeat enemy networks, strengthened Iraqi Security Forces, transitioned 12 bases to the Iraqi government and assisted in establishing the largest U.S. consulate in the world in Basra.
Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, the division's new commander, had high praise for the brigade's accomplishments under Crissman.
"Greywolf's task was much more nuanced than building units from the ground up," said Ierardi. "Communication, confidence, cooperation and professionalism are of the upmost importance."
Continuing, he said, "With the eyes of the world and the nation on the completion of this mission, intensity was ever present and real was the physical danger presented by the enemy. Despite these added levels of challenge, Greywolf distinguished itself in all areas of operation."
On Dec. 18, Greywolf was the last U.S. brigade to exit Iraq.
"I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Army for providing me and Carolyn the privilege of leading this great team along the challenging path of the last two years," said Crissman.
His next assignment is at the University of Texas at Austin, where he will complete a Senior Service College Fellowship.
Col. David Lesperance took command of Greywolf, joined by his wife, Kelly, and their two children. Lesperance has completed all of his operational commands with the division, including serving as commander of 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, from April 2008 to April 2010, during the unit's third deployment to Iraq. He last served as the senior combined arms battalion trainer at the National Training Center, which he left in June 2011 to attend the U.S. Army War College.
"We understand our responsibility to care for the soldiers and families of Greywolf, enabling mission accomplishment as members of the First Team, and we will do our duty," said Lesperance.
Contact Rose L. Thayer at email@example.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.