News: 1-186 Infantry Battalion changes command
POWELL BUTTE, Ore. – Lt. Col. Kenneth Pons relinquished command of the 1-186 Infantry Battalion to Lt. Col. Noel Hoback during a change of command ceremony at Biak Training Center, in Powell Butte, Ore., July 26.
Pons has served as the battalion commander of the unit since April 16, 2010.
At the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, Adjutant General, Oregon, awarded Pons with a Meritorious Service Medal for leadership excellence during his command of the 1-186 Inf. Bn.
“Strength has continued to climb, [Military Occupational Specialty] qualification continues to climb, and personnel readiness continues to climb,” Rees said. He noted the 1-186’s sustained level of forward momentum during the critical phase of unit redeployment and reintegration known as “reset” and the unit’s present state of high readiness.
The medal citation also recognized Pons’ role in leading the 1-186 Inf. Bn. to compete nationally in the Supply Excellence Award competition. While under Pons’ direction, the battalion placed second out of more than one hundred other units.
In his outgoing remarks, Pons expressed his admiration for the 1-186 Infantry Soldiers.
“It has been an honor,” he said. “You are the premier battalion in the state, if not the Army.”
He then turned to Hoback and said, “I think we’ve left them in good shape for you. They are all yours.”
Hoback served as the battalion operations officer during Operation Iraqi Freedom 2009-2010 prior to being selected to command the battalion.
He began his Army career in 1991 when he received his Reserve Officer Commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve. He attended the Military Police Officer Basic Course and was assigned to the 104 Training Division in Salem, Ore., and in 1995 transferred to the Oregon National Guard and served as a tactical intelligence officer.
Hoback’s assignments within the 1-186 Inf. include Charlie Company executive officer, Echo Company commander, Bravo Company commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander, Delta Company commander, and air operations officer.
He has deployed to Sinai, Egypt, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 2002-2003 as a company commander for the Multinational Force and Observers mission and to New Orleans, La., as part of the Hurricane Katrina relief effort in 2005.
Hoback deployed to Afghanistan a second time in 2006-2007 where he served as a company and battalion team chief on an Embedded Training Team. Prior to his 2009-2010 deployment to Iraq, he served at the Oregon Joint Force Headquarters as a state movement officer.
Rees said of Hoback’s assumption of command, “You have spent the better part of the last 14 years involved with this organization. We know this is going to be a continuation of the great success of the ‘Guardians of the western gate.’”
Hoback was visibly moved while addressing the battalion for the first time as the new commander.
“We were the first battalion in the state of Oregon to answer the call to arms” he said, recalling the unit’s activation shortly after the attacks of September 2001.
Hoback then thanked Rees and Col. William Edwards, brigade commander of the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team, for trusting him to lead the 1-186 Inf. Bn.
“We don’t know what will happen in the next three months --or years-- that will change our lives," Hoback said. “What I can tell you is the 1-186 Infantry will be ready.”