Spartans welcome new commander


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U.S. Army Alaska Commanding General Maj. Gen. Michael X. Garrett passes the unit colors of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division to the incoming commander Col. Matthew McFarlane during a change of command ceremony held at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Wednesday, Dec. 5.

Jason Epperson

Col. Matthew W. McFarlane assumed command of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division from outgoing commander Col. Morris T. Goins during a change of command ceremony held Dec. 5 at Hangar One, here.

The event was attended by many dignitaries and family members from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson including the commander of Alaskan Command, Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen L. Hoog and U.S. Army Alaska commander, Maj. Gen. Michael X. Garrett.

Maj. Gen. Garrett, who was the 4-25’s first commanding officer when it was formed in 2005, said he remembers when the Army gave an order to stand up the brigade. Since then the brigade’s colors now bear three combat tour streamers, signifying multiple deployments in its short history.

Garrett said the Paratroopers looked great as they stood in formation for the change of command ceremony, and they were representative of the 10,000 Paratroopers that have come before them. He also took a moment to thank the U.S. Army, Alaska Band for their continued performances over the years.

“On many levels this is very special for me,” said Garrett. “I fondly recall the hard work by many great men and women, some of who are in this formation and in attendance today, build this, the Army’s newest Airborne Brigade Combat Team.”

Col. Goins said when you spell out the word team, the two center letters are “ea,” and without the individual “eaches” then there would be no team.

Col. Goins went on to thank each member of his team, starting with JBER and its surrounding communities.

“To the community, (one each), the best community a commander could ever ask for, there are too many to thank. But know that your efforts will always make us smile and have a special place in our hearts.”

“To the ‘one each’ fallen soldiers, you will not be forgotten, nor will your families,” Goins said. “To the ‘one each’ Paratroopers and to the ‘one each’ noncommissioned officers in this great organization, your efforts and your sacrifice allowed for the freedoms of many generations to come.”

“To each family represented here today, thanks for being the best that our nation truly has to offer.”

Col. Goins went on to thank many other members of his team, to include company commanders and first sergeants, the 4-25’s brigade staff element, the brigade’s battalion commanders, the brigade’s deputy commanding officer, Lt. Col. Jeremy B. Miller, and the 4-25’s command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Terry D. Gardner.

Lastly, Col. Goins thanked his wife, Yolanda Goins, for her lifelong commitment and continued support.

Col. Goins sent Col. McFarlane and McFarland’s wife Kelly his best wishes as he stepped away and relinquished command of the storied brigade.

Col. Goins will be moving on from here to take a position in Washington, D.C.

Col. McFarlane said, “I am humbled, but grateful for the privilege of serving in such an outstanding unit on this tremendous joint installation and a very supportive Anchorage community.”

Col. McFarlane thanked Col. Goins and his wife Yolanda for their help during McFarland’s move and transition into the brigade and Alaska.

Col. McFarlane went on to thank many members of the armed services, his parents, his wife Kelly, and his two sons Collin and Ryan for their support throughout his career.

Col. McFarlane took a moment to address the 4-25’s Paratroopers and their families and friends.

Col. McFarland said, “To the Spartan family; Troopers, families and friends of the brigade, the McFarland’s are truly honored to join your ranks. To the Troopers, I look forward to serving you and Soldiering with you each and every day. One team! Arctic Warriors! Sparta Lives! Airborne!”

The ceremony concluded a long string of change of command ceremonies held within the brigade over the last several days which saw all six of its battalion’s receive new commanders.

The 4-25th has fully returned from their recent deployment to Afghanistan, and the brigade will now focus its attention on retraining to fill its mission as the only Airborne Brigade in the Pacific Theater.

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