Kentucky aviation brigade welcomes new commander

By Sgt. Brandy Mort, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Brig. Gen. Scott Campbell (left) receives the colors of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade from outgoing commander, Col. Michael Stephens during a change of command ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., May 20, 2017. Stephens relinquished command to Lt. Col. Gary Lewis. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brandy Mort)

Brig. Gen. Scott Campbell (left) receives the colors of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade from outgoing commander, Col. Michael Stephens during a change of command ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., May 20, 2017. Stephens relinquished command to Lt. Col. Gary Lewis. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brandy Mort)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The entire 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade stood at the position of attention to say farewell to outgoing commander Col. Michael Stephens and hello to their incoming commander Lt. Col. Gary Lewis during a change of command ceremony held in Frankfort, Ky., May 20, 2017.

The ceremony started with a brief introduction of the official party and the brigade staff, then shifted to the passing of the colors, which signifies the official change of command. When the passing of the colors ended, the guests in attendance were directed towards the sky for a fly over from three UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopters.

“The flyover was one of my favorite parts of the ceremony and signifies what we do,” said Stephens, “As an aviation brigade, our units touch just about every bit of the aircraft. From the pilots that fly them to the maintenance teams who fix them, and everything in between.”

Following the flyover, the 63rd’s Soldier of the Year, Spc. James Alvey presented flowers to Lewis’ wife and daughter and a coin to his son on behalf of the command.  It was also a passing of colors between Lewis and Stephens in 2014 when Lewis took charge of the 751st Aviation Troop Command when then brigade commander Stephens entrusted one of his units to Lewis.

“I want to thank my wife and kids for always being there to support me, and my dad and mom for teaching me what right looks like,” said Lewis.

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Next, Brig. Gen. Scott Campbell, Kentucky’s assistant adjutant general addressed the troops and said farewell to Stephens. Stephens commanded the 63rd since 2014.

“Mike never lost his focus on the Soldiers and families of the brigade. Thank you for your tireless effort. Your leadership has protected our Soldiers and their families for the last three years. It is a testament to your service, the continued aviation safety record, and the success of the mission,” said Campbell.

After the conclusion of his speech, Stephens was presented the brigade colors framed and surrounded by the unit crests of the subordinate units of the 63rd TAB, as a token of their appreciation for his leadership.

Following the gift presentation, Stephens addressed the brigade for one last time. He thanked the Soldiers and thanked his mentors.

“Today isn’t about me, I can’t name things that I have accomplished. It is about you as the Soldiers. I don’t see today as a bad day, or the end. I see today as a new beginning for all of you.”

Stephens spoke of the brigade’s accomplishments and how proud he was that the brigade accomplished them.

Lewis then thanked the honored guests, friends and family, and last but not least the Soldiers and former Soldiers of the 63rd TAB for attending the ceremony.

“I want to thank Col. Stephens for the smooth transition. The only thing that I’m upset about during the transition is that he left me the key to the office but not the key to corvette.”

After the joke about Stephen’s vehicle, he took a more serious tone to address the Soldiers in the brigade.

“One thing I know is that in being a commander, you can’t make the brigade great on your own. It takes each and every one of you. If you fail, I fail. I will work hard to support you, defend you, and lead you.”