‘First Lightning’ Battalion conducts Battery A Change of Command ceremony
BAGHDAD—Capt. William E. Kemerling, third from left, outgoing commander of Battery A, 1st “First Lightning” Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center and a Manhattan, Kan., native, cuts a cake with Capt. Brian P. Cotter, right, the new commander of Battery A, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a Providence, R.I., native, May 11, 2011 at Joint Security Station Loyalty, Iraq. Cake was served in the battalion conference room following the Battery A Change of Command ceremony, allowing those who attended the opportunity to say goodbye to the outgoing commander and welcome the new one. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Christopher Miles, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C)
Story by: 2nd Lt. Jonathan Woislaw
BAGHDAD—On May 11, 2011, Soldiers with Battery A, 1st "First Lightning" Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center conducted a Change of Command ceremony at Joint Security Station Loyalty, Iraq, to say goodbye to their outgoing commander and welcome the battery's new leader.
Capt. William E. Kemerling, outgoing commander of Battery A and a Manhattan, Kan., native, relinquished command of the "Black Knights" battery as Capt. Brian P. Cotter, incoming commander and a Providence, R.I., native, assumed the post. Col. Paul T. Calvert, commander of 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div. and an Athens, Ga., native, was present to witness the proceedings.
Kemerling praised the battery's Soldiers for their adaptability, transitioning from a traditional firing battery into an effective maneuver force.
"You are the definition of the versatile Soldier – able to complete any
mission or task assigned to you," said Kemerling.
Lt. Col. Andrew C. Gainey, commander of 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a Columbia, S.C., native, echoed those sentiments when he praised Kemerling's time with the Black Knights.
"He transformed these [artillerymen]…while providing support for both the brigade and battalion in a hostile and complex environment," said Gainey. "Alpha Battery exceeded our expectations."
After bidding farewell to the old commander, Gainey turned his attention to Cotter, expressing his confidence in the new leader.
"I fully trust in your abilities to lead these fine Soldiers," said Gainey. "Your professionalism and your competence will serve your Soldiers and their Families well."
Cotter thanked the brigade and battalion commanders for their trust in him and for giving him such a great opportunity.
"I truly appreciate the chance to lead Soldiers in combat and I will strive to meet and exceed your expectations every day," said Cotter.
Once the battery guidon was passed to Cotter, representing the transfer of command onto him, it was time to look forward to the future.
"The transition went well—the Soldiers remain highly-motivated and are excited that they have a new commander," said 1st Sgt. Trevor Vansluytman, senior enlisted advisor of Battery A and a Brooklyn, N.Y., native. "Also, it was great to see [Col. Calvert] take an interest in Alpha Battery's Soldiers and our mission here at JSS Loyalty."
Since the change of command ceremony took place in the middle of a deployment, it lacked the usual contingent of Family members and friends of the honorees. However, Cotter did have one special member in the audience. 1st Lt. Andrew Cotter, executive officer of Battery B, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a Providence, R.I., native, was present to see his older brother assume command.
A reception for Kemerling and Cotter followed the official ceremony, as the two officers prepared to take on their new responsibilities. Cotter will remain at JSS Loyalty to command his formation, while Kemerling will remain in Iraq and join the 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div. as the Battalion Fire Support Officer.