FORT RILEY, Kan. — Nine-year-old Ian Field, known as Honorary Command Sgt. Maj. Ian Field to the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, was on hand for the “Black Lions” change of command ceremony, May 8, at Cavalry Parade Field.
Not only did Ian have the opportunity to attend the ceremony and witness this historical military tradition, but he also stood with the incoming commander, Lt. Col. James Lander, saluting soldiers and formations as they marched by for pass in review, a long-standing tradition which allows incoming and newly assigned commanders to review their troops.
“The Make-A-Wish Foundation matched us with the right people at the right time,” said Ian’s father, Jason Field. “Ian has got to experience things in the Army that most people, even soldiers, will never experience in their life.”
Ian became linked with the battalion about two years ago through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and, since then, the family and the Black Lions have strengthened their relationship and bond, continuing to make Ian’s dreams come true. Ian suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a debilitating genetic illness found in approximately one in every 3,600 male children.
“He chose to meet us. Being in the Army is what we do every day. He could have used his wish and choose anything, but he chose to be a soldier,” 1st Sgt. Brandon McGuire, a senior leader in the Black Lions said. “It’s humbling and it brings a bigger sense of pride to what we do.”
In April 2011, Ian visited the battalion for two days, experiencing 20 years of Army life in just 48 hours. A ceremony was held and Ian “enlisted” in the Army. Ian shot a variety of weapons, fired a Howitzer, preformed first aid, rappelled down a wall, rode in a Humvee through a simulated battle and spent a night in the barracks.
Over the two days Ian was living his Army dream, McGuire was his assigned “battle buddy.” The two did everything together, building a bond that is strong and alive today.
“This means a lot, the relationship continues to grow, the soldiers embrace Ian every time is here,” Jason Field said.
At the change of command ceremony, Ian, his family and McGuire got to experience every detail. From the cannon firing to kick off the ceremony to the symbolic passing of the guidon, the group was able to take in all the activities on the field.
“After Ian’s first visit, I’ve stayed in touch with Ian and his family. We thought this would be a great event for him to come join our battalion and be involved in the ceremony,” McGuire said.
As the pass in review was under way, it was Ian’s prestigious moment. McGuire escorted him to the center of the field where he prepared to assist Lander in his duties. Ian was honored with the right to review the troops with the battalion’s new commander. Alongside Lander, Ian saluted every formation that marched by, including the Commanding Generals Mounted Color Guard and the 1st Inf. Div. Band.
“Ian is a great kid,” McGuire said. “We plan on continuing this relationship with him and his family and including them in our battalion.”
As the ceremony came to an end, it was clear that the Black Lions have Ian in their hearts.
“Although this was only our second visit, we will continue to come and visit the soldiers of this battalion.” Jason Field said. “The Black Lions and the Fort Riley community have become like family and supported us in many ways. We look forward to furthering our relationship with them and continuing to make Ian’s dreams come true.”