CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — With troops formed up in long, gray ranks and a band playing, the Army’s aviation brigade in South Korea formally changed commanders Thursday.

Under sunny skies at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Col. Joseph A. Bassani assumed command of the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade. His previous assignment was as chief of plans for the U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

Bassani replaces Col. William H. Morris, who commanded the brigade since June 2006 and moves to an assignment as J-3, Combined Security Transition Command–Afghanistan.

In remarks during the ceremony, 2nd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. John W. Morgan III praised the departing Morris, saying his leadership had inspired the brigade to distinguished performance.

"When I think of Bill Morris, I see a warrior-leader," Morgan said. "Bill has inspired these great soldiers to greatness and that is the hallmark of his legacy."

Morgan credited Morris with, among other achievements, "realistic, combat-focused" training for the brigade, which he called "one of the most lethal and agile resources in our inventory."

The brigade includes AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters, CH-47 Chinook and UH-64 Black Hawk cargo helicopters, and the C-12 Huron fixed-wing cargo plane.

Morgan said Morris’ "excellent training program" included a recent live-fire combat exercise at Rodriguez Range. The exercise saw brigade helicopters working closely with U.S. ground troops and airmen and a South Korean army aviation unit.

In farewell remarks, Morris thanked his troops, senior and subordinate leaders, South Korean military counterparts and others.

"It has been my distinct honor, and privilege, to be your commander," he told the troops.

Bassani said he was honored to be given command of the brigade.

"I look forward to soldiering with you," he said.

A native of Springfield, Mass., Bassani holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Western New England College, a master’s in communication and rhetoric from the University of Oklahoma, and a master’s in strategy and joint operational planning through the Joint Advanced Warfighting School at the National Defense University.

He’s a senior Army aviator rated in Black Hawk and Apache helicopters, among other military aircraft. Bassani was commissioned in 1984 as a Distinguished Military Graduate of the ROTC program at the University of Massachusetts.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now