News: 1st Air Cavalry Brigade changes command
Story by Staff Sgt. Joe Armas
FORT HOOD, Texas -- The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, changed command during a ceremony Aug. 2 here at Cooper Field.
Col. John Novalis, from Williamsport, Pa., relinquished command to Col. Cory Mendenhall, from Bonners Ferry, Idaho.
Novalis commanded the brigade during its recent deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As he addressed those in attendance, he took the opportunity to reflect on his time as commander of the 1st ACB.
“Commanding this brigade has been the highlight of my professional career,” said Novalis.
Throughout his speech, he gave credit to his strength in God, his family and the soldiers of the 1st ACB for the success the brigade achieved during its deployment to OEF. He thanked the brigade’s soldiers for the sacrifices they made this past year, as the brigade provided coalition ground forces with aviation assets across four regional commands in Afghanistan.
“There’s no higher honor to command Soldiers, especially when we are a nation at war” said Novalis. “You make me proud to wear this uniform and the ‘First Team’ patch.”
During the ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. Glen Vela, from Dallas, transferred responsibility for the brigade to Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Amagliani, from Hartford, Conn.
Novalis thanked Vela for his friendship and the counsel he provided as the brigade’s senior enlisted advisor. He also gave his best wishes to the incoming command team. “I know you both will take this formation on to greater accomplishments. You’ll carry on the legacy of discipline, caring, trust and mission execution that makes our Army strong,” said Novalis.
Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division, presided over the ceremony as the reviewing officer. He gave his thoughts on the accomplishments of the brigade’s outgoing command team.
“(Novalis and Vela) inspired and led the brigade’s troops in the toughest conditions,” said Ierardi. “They gave selflessly to this unit, placing mission and their Soldiers above everything else.”
Ierardi also acknowledged Mary Novalis and Kathy Vela for the contributions they made to the brigade, the division and the local Ft. Hood community.
“Over the course of their husbands’ careers, they have given their hearts and souls to the soldiers and families of the Army, balancing this with the demands of their own families,” said Ierardi. The warrior brigade is better off as a result of the sacrifices these two women have made during the past two years, he added.
As for the incoming command team, Mendenhall previously served as the deputy chief of staff for Central Command in Qatar. Amagliani is no stranger to the 1st ACB, having served as the command sergeant major for the 615th Aviation Support Battalion during the brigade’s last deployment to Iraq in 2009 and 2010.
Mendenhall began his speech by speaking directly to the outgoing commander and his spouse, Mary.
“Your efforts over the last two years … building, deploying and re-deploying this brigade have left a legacy that will resonate with future leaders of our Army for years to come,” said Mendenhall. “You have made a positive difference in so many lives. Brooke and I wish you both the best.”
As he concluded his remarks, Mendenhall addressed the 1st ACB troopers who now fall under his command. “To the warrior Soldiers on the parade field who are willing to answer the nation’s call and pay the price for freedom, I’m extremely proud to serve with you as Warrior Six,” said Mendenhall.