Fort Rucker bids farewell to Mangum, welcomes new USAACE command
Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum relinquished command of the United States Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker to newcomer Brig. Gen. Michael D. Lundy in a change of command ceremony attended by hundreds of family members, soldiers and supporters at Howze Field March 20.
Command Sgt. Major James H. Thompson Jr. also handed over his responsibility of the Aviation Branch to Command Sgt. Maj. Eric C. Thom.
The ceremony opened with the marching of the 98th Army “Silver Wings” Band, followed by speeches from both the outgoing and incoming command teams. The outgoing commanders passed the flag to the new command team, marking the official change in Fort Rucker’s leadership.
Several leaders from the Wiregrass community attended the ceremony, including Daleville Mayor Claudia Wigglesworth, Enterprise Mayor Kenneth Boswell, Ozark Mayor Billy Blackwell and U.S Representative Martha Roby, R-Ala.
Roby said she felt privileged to attend the ceremony.
“Maj. Gen. Mangum has served so honorably and Maj. Thompson as well, along with their families,” Roby said. “I appreciate their service to our country and what a huge deal that the Army is not done with them yet. A real special thank-you to their wives and their children for their service and sacrifice to our country.”
Reviewing Officer Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown, commanding general for the United States Army Combined Arms Center (USACAC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., said the ceremony represented “the departure of two remarkable leaders, and the gaining of two more.”
Brown said the outgoing command team was especially effective in the training of “superb aviators” and the development of a synchronized air and land team during a time of sequestration and serious budget challenges for the Army.
“As a command team, Maj. Gen. Mangum and Command Sgt. Maj. Thompson led this organization with incredible distinction,” Brown said. “They left behind a great legacy to be continued by their successors. Gen. Mangum is an absolutely inspirational leader and he provided incredible vision, guidance, oversight and the resources required to create the best aviators in the world.”
Mangum served for the last two years as Fort Rucker’s commanding general. During his farewell speech, he thanked his family, his command team and his fellow soldiers, hundreds of whom stood in formation that morning on the field.
“I’m proud to have worked with a very dedicated team spanning the entire Army aviation enterprise,” Mangum said. “We took our visors off and created an innovative, out of the box solution to keep Army Aviation relevant for the future…We remain relentlessly focused on and dedicated to honoring the sacred trust of commanders and soldiers on the ground.”
Mangum said that even though he had no idea “what a strange and fascinating journey” his command experience would be, he felt honored to serve with the soldiers of Fort Rucker, whom he described as “absolutely fearless and magnificent.”
“I leave here much richer than I arrived,” Mangum said. “I am humbled to have had the rare privilege and to be blessed to shoulder the responsibility inherent to this position. I did my best to leave it better than I found it and will let you be the judge. It is a very long way from the bright eyed and bushy tailed lieutenant who showed up here almost 32 years ago trying to be like his dad.”
Magnum has been selected for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general and assignment as Deputy Commanding General and Chief of Staff for the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.
Lundy, who is known for his expertise in training, previously served as the Deputy Commanding General for the United States Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Thom comes from an assignment in the Pentagon as Aviation Directorate Sergeant Major.
In his first speech as commanding general, Lundy said he was proud to be a part of Fort Rucker and the Aviation Center of Excellence.
"You epitomize the excellence that our profession demands, and I'm now very proud to be counted amongst your ranks. And I expect you to continue mission,” Lundy said.
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