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Fort Stewart, Hunter Army Airfield celebrate changes in command

By BRITTINI RAY | Savannah Morning News, Ga. | Published: June 14, 2019

(Tribune News Service) — The theme was change in Savannah's military community as Fort Stewart's 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade and Hunter Army Airfield celebrated changes of command Thursday.

A new command team took over the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade in the morning as Commander Col. Mark Johnson passed the torch to Col. Michael McFadden at Forsyth Park.

"My message is simple," Johnson said. "It's one of thanks. In the past 24 months, this brigade has set high standards of sustained readiness."

The event was held in Forysth Park as an opportunity to include the community in an important military tradition, according to Sgt. Maj. Jose Fontanez, who helped to organize the ceremony.

"They change over, pass the colors from one commander to the other symbolizing a farewell from one commander and welcoming the next command," Fontanez said. "We decided to do this in Forsyth park so we can have the community be part of it. It's important to us because we are part of the community. Our families are part of community. We live in the community. Our kids grow up here. So it's important for us to show our support of the city of Savannah."

The ceremony was one of two events marking a change in leadership.

At Hunter Army Airfield, officials welcomed a new garrison commander as Lt. Col Kenneth Dwyer relinquished command to Lt. Col. David Escobar during an afternoon ceremony.

Dwyer will head to Fort Bragg for a Special Forces training role where he will "train the next generation of Special Forces."

"This has absolutely without a doubt been the most military-friendly community that I have been a part of," Dywer said. "A lot of people say 'We support the military,' but Savannah says and shows it. We can feel it every single day. You can feel that the people really do care. I'm proud of what my team has accomplished here."

Escobar was commissioned as an Armor officer in 2001 through the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and his deployments include 36 months across two tours to Iraq and one tour to Afghanistan.

"I am humbled and honored to serve as Hunter Army Airfield Garrison commander," he said. "It's fitting that we make the transition in June as it gives us an opportunity to honor our airfield's namesake Maj. Gen. Frank Hunter, a native son of Savannah and Coastal Georgia, who died this month 37 years ago."

©2019 Savannah Morning News (Savannah, Ga.)

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