A multitude of maroon berets could be seen in formation as the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment conducted a change of command June 28. Lt. Col. Curt Rowland Jr., outgoing commander, passed the battalion colors to incoming commander, Lt. Col. Jimmy Hathaway.

A multitude of maroon berets could be seen in formation as the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment conducted a change of command June 28. Lt. Col. Curt Rowland Jr., outgoing commander, passed the battalion colors to incoming commander, Lt. Col. Jimmy Hathaway.

The reviewing officer was Col. David Doyle, Joint Readiness Training Center Operations Group commander.       

Doyle said those in attendance were assembled not only to recognize the unit’s history of accomplishments, but also the achievements and dedication of both the outgoing and incoming commanders. “The change of command is important because it helps link our unit to its legacy and allows us to commend the performance and contributions of amazing paratroopers and leaders,” he said.

Acknowledging the battalion’s history, Doyle reminded the audience that the organization conducted five combat jumps during World War II, served with distinction and earned accolades for valor and tremendous service.

“The paratroopers standing before you honor that legacy by the way they serve and train today. They are hardened by continuous training in the rigorous JRTC environment and know how to fight and win. They clearly honor those that have previously served in this unit and continue to bring credit to the Geronimo colors,” said Doyle.

Over the last two years, Doyle said Rowland harnessed the skill and passion of his paratroopers and leveraged their energy to improve the Army’s infantry brigade combat teams. “Kurt knows how our formations must fight to be successful and helps our BCT commanders learn essential lessons. He is passionate about the JRTC mission and knows we are all here to help our Army prepare to fight and win in the unforgiving crucible of land combat,” he said.

The number one thing Rowland said he loves about serving in the military is that you are always part of a team. “It takes every member of a team to accomplish your goal and the Soldiers before you, operations group and post JRTC are an incredible team,” he said. “I’ve never been in an organization that has focused on the singular purpose of readiness quite like we do here. It’s been great to be part of that.”

Rowland thanked the Soldiers standing in formation for living the battalion vision. “When we came together 24 months ago, we decided we were going to be lethal, agile, adaptive and disciplined. We held ourselves to that standard. I’ve never seen these Soldiers fail — not one time — no matter how difficult the mission. On one occasion I asked them to capture some Soldiers so we could make them human shields and integrate them into our defense. Two hours later I had to call them back and tell them to stop because they had captured so many we were in danger of capturing the entire brigade. This is an amazing battalion,” said Rowland. “Thank you for your continuous sacrifices on behalf of Army readiness. Continue to be the great Soldiers you are. Our Army depends on you. It was an honor to serve with you.”

As Rowland departs, Doyle said the Geronimo team is fortunate to bring in another tremendous leader. “Jimmy brings a wealth of experience. His drive and focus will strengthen this high performing battalion and help them accomplish their mission to be the premier environment for realistic, relevant and rigorous training,” said Doyle.

Hathaway said he was humbled to join this storied formation.

“The reputation of the men and women standing on the field in front of you is legendary. They are the most proficient fighters the United States Army has to offer. They take their job seriously and have earned the title of the most hated unit in the Army. I’m honored to be joining their ranks today,” he said.