By Capt. Melissa Mattingly, 138th Field Artillery Brigade
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Col. Robert Larkin relinquished his command of the 138th Field Artillery Brigade to Lt. Col. Dennis Hawthorne during a change of command ceremony March 12, in Lexington. There was a packed house in attendance at the Lexington Armory with members of the Lexington Fire Department, family, friends and Guardsman.
Larkin recalled the brigade’s accomplishments over the last two years and commended the unit for maintaining the title of, “number one field artillery brigade and battalions in the Guard,” throughout his command.
“If you are number one then there is only one direction you can go and that is down. But, the truth of the matter is we, or more aptly you all, did not go that direction. You maintained those rankings and did so while getting back to the field.”
Maj. Gen. Stephen Hogan, adjutant general of Kentucky presided over the ceremony and also spoke of the 138th’s high reputation and Larkin’s successful term as commander.
“Give them the mission and get out of the way,” he said. “The 138th has never failed to live up to their legacy and Col. Larkin has led them with a high level of professionalism. He is the epitome of a citizen-soldier.”
Larkin offered some advice to the guardsmen in the audience as he said his goodbyes and prepares for the next chapter of his military career.
“Folks it has been one heck of a ride, a time that I will cherish as one of the most memorable periods of my life. If I can offer a few thoughts as I break contact; stay in, make it work with your civilian career and family. I only recall one time that someone ever said getting out of the service was the best thing I ever did.”
Hawthorne now assumes command of the 138th, having spent nearly 30 years in uniform. He enlisted into the Kentucky Guard as an artillery crewmember in 1988 and received his commission through Eastern Kentucky University ROTC in 1995.
Hawthorne extended his gratitude to families and Soldiers and said that he believes there should be an environment of trust built on integrity. A fact, Hawthorne said, is the cornerstone to the success of any unit.
“I expect everyone to serve our Commonwealth and Nation in a respectful manner that instills confidence and builds character, competence and leadership.”
“This can only happen if we respect one another and do what’s right all the time. Trust is the cornerstone for a unit, and that is built on integrity and faith that we will be there for one another.”
Larkin continues to serve as a captain with the Lexington Fire Department and will transition to the director of Military Plans and Doctrine for the Kentucky Guard.