VICENZA, Italy – Five deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan. The loss of almost 100 Sky Soldiers during those missions. Thirty-eight Silver Stars, one Distinguished Service Cross and the Medal of Honor.
A lot has happened since the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team was reactivated in 2000 on Hoekstra Field.
Thursday marked the sixth change of command for the unit in Vicenza as Col. Michael Foster took over from Col. Andrew Rohling.
Foster joins an array of new faces in the brigade, which served its fourth stint in Afghanistan in 2012 before returning to Vicenza near the end of the year. Its six battalions have all recently changed commanders.
All of those soldiers will have to live up to the standards that those before them have set, according to Maj. Gen. Richard C. Longo, deputy commander of U.S. Army Europe, who called the 173rd “arguably the most prestigious brigade combat team in the Army.”
Rohling is among those who had some impact on that, having served in the unit during three rotations downrange. His next assignment is working for Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff.
During remarks, Rohling said he and his family will miss the unit, living in Italy and their Italian friends.
“Thankfully the goodness has always outweighed the bad,” he said.
Foster, like Rohling, was a member of the 1st Ranger Regiment during his 23-year career. He’s also served in multiple capacities with other Ranger elements and the 82nd Airborne Brigade.
In his brief remarks, Foster — married with three young daughters — told his new troops “Reggie and I are thrilled to be a part of this team and I am truly honored and humble to stand in your ranks. I look forward to the time and the challenges we will face and overcome together.”
One of the first tasks that Foster will oversee will be the transfer of two of the brigade’s six battalions to Vicenza from Germany. A grand opening for Caserma Del Din, their new home, is scheduled for Tuesday.