News: SCARNG 59th Aviation Troop Command changes leadership
Story by Staff Sgt. Erica Knight
EASTOVER, S.C.— Col. Wallace Bonds turned over command of the South Carolina National Guard’s 59th Aviation Troop Command to Col. James Barkley during a change of command ceremony at aviation headquarters on McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover, S.C. Sept. 7.
“This is the finest Army aviation unit in the Army and we must ask what makes us different,” said Maj. Gen. Lester D. Eisner, deputy adjutant general of the S.C. National Guard. “We have a culture that doesn’t accept mediocrity and always tries to excel.”
Bonds began his Army aviation career in 1989 with the Army. He transferred to the SCNG in 1999. Since then, Bonds has served in many positions though out the aviation community and has over seen multiple aviation and aviation support deployments to Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Bonds celebrated a more than 20-year career in Army aviation as he transitions to a strategic plans and policy position.
“I cannot thank you enough,” Bonds told the soldiers during his parting remarks. “It is bittersweet leaving aviation, but it’s been a great flight.”
Eisner told the soldiers gathered before them that they had watched Barkley mature through deployments and missions. They feel confident that the aviation facility is being put in good hands.
“I am following great aviation leaders,” Barkley said. “This is an outstanding group of professionals and subject matter experts developed from 11 deployments. I’m honored to serve with you.”
Barkley’s aviation career began with the Washington Army National Guard in 1987. Four years later he transferred to the SCARNG. In the following years, Barkley held a number of leadership positions. He has supported deployments in Kuwait and Iraq.
“The known is easy to prepare for. We must prepare for the unknown, whether it’s ‘mother nature’ or bad guys,” said Eisner. “Aviation will always be called on.”