A number of well-maintained and highly polished aircraft created a unique backdrop for the 5th Aviation Battalion’s change of command ceremony on Aug. 17 at the battalion hangar.

A number of well-maintained and highly polished aircraft created a unique backdrop for the 5th Aviation Battalion’s change of command ceremony on Aug. 17 at the battalion hangar.
As Soldiers stood in formation and guests observed from their seats, Lt. Col. Christopher S. Speer passed the mantle of command to Lt. Col. Guy J. Gierhart.
The mission of the 5th Avn. Bn. is to conduct general support aviation and administrative operations to allow training and logistical movements for the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk as well as the 6th Ranger Training Battalion at Camp Rudder, Fla.
The battalion supports all major support command units assigned to Fort Polk and rotational units.
It has 31 aircraft, 244 soldiers and more than 200 Department of the Army civilians and contractors working in support of the battalion’s 24-hour a day, seven day a week mission.
JRTC and Fort Polk Garrison Commander Col. Roger L. Shuck recounted a few of Speer’s accomplishments during his tenure in his remarks at the ceremony.
“This change of command culminates two years of (Speer’s) exceptional leadership, vision and dedication,” Shuck said.
“During his command, (Speer) led the battalion as they transformed from the Army’s oldest helicopters, the Hueys, to its newest platform, the Lakota, while supporting more than 400 Fort Polk and JRTC missions, 20 JRTC rotations and 26 Ranger missions in Camp Rudder, Florida,” he said.
Shuck also complimented Speer on his team’s solution for solving a recurring engine problem, and for stepping up to the plate time and time again for any task asked of him.
“When you asked (Speer) to do something, he never said no…he would figure out a way," he said. "He did it, and did it safely. That’s all a commander could ever ask of someone.”
Just prior to the change of command, Shuck pinned the Legion of Merit onto Speer’s uniform, one of the last awards he will receive from the Army as he leaves Fort Polk to retire with his Family in Texas.
Speer thanked his soldiers and the civilians that he worked with daily “for the best two years of my Army career.”
Gierhart comes to Fort Polk from his position as medical evacuation systems officer and aviation current operations officer at Headquarters, Department of the Army G3/5/7 Aviation Directorate.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with two oak leaf clusters; Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters; Air Medal with V-device; Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster; Joint Service Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster; Army Achievement Medal; Joint Meritorious Unit Award; Valorous Unit Award; Meritorious Unit Citation; NATO Medal; Combat Medical Badge; Combat Action Badge; Expert Field Medical Badge; Senior Army Aviator Badge; Ranger Tab and Parachutist Badge.
Gierhart said he is thankful for this opportunity to lead the “Diamondback” soldiers of the 5th Avn Bn.
“I commend all the teams, the Soldiers and civilians, for the great work that they do and I look forward to working with each and every one of you over the next few years,” he said.
Gierhart is married to the former Elizabeth Ballentine and has two children: Guy Jr., age 11, and Will, age 7.