News: ‘Red Lions’ battalion changes hands
Story by Staff Sgt. Christopher McCullough
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Lt. Col. Norberto Menendez, from Miami, assumed command of the 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Lt. Col. Rory Crooks, of Spokane, Wash., in a formal ceremony on Watkins Field, Aug. 2, 2013.
Crooks commanded the battalion for more than two years, to include its recent deployment to Afghanistan, from March to December 2012. In his farewell remarks, he had nothing but good things to say about the ‘Red Lion’ soldiers of 1-37 FA, who, while in his charge, conducted combat operations across Zabul and Kandahar provinces in support of Combined Task Force Arrowhead's multifaceted mission.
“Serving these men and women before you has left me with a profound sense of awe for their sacrifices and the risks that they willingly undertook for the mission and for each other,” said Crooks. “The experience of serving in this battalion has left me with a profound respect for the resilience of our soldiers, leaders, and their families.”
Crooks went on to explain how, after working with the incoming commander for a time, he felt confident the unit's soldiers were in good hands and would be well taken care of.
“I thank God that you will be leading this battalion and am so happy for you," Crooks said to Menendez. “You will lead them with wisdom and compassion, and I know with certitude that they will perform tremendously under your command.”
Crooks' faith is well founded, as Menendez comes to the Red Lion battalion after having served in a variety of command and staff assignments both stateside and abroad.
Of note, Menendez was the commander of both Battery A (105mm Towed), and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. Following his command assignments, Menendez served as aide-de-camp to the commanding general, 82nd Airborne Division. Menendez's most recent assignment was as a land operations planner at NATO Headquarters Allied Force Command - Madrid.
“To the Red Lion battalion, your professionalism and insight during this transition is an indicator of a disciplined, professional, combat hardened battalion … thank you," Menendez said during his change of command speech. "[My wife], Ceci, and I are privileged to join your ranks and look forward to serving you and the Arrowhead brigade."