Fort Bliss (U.S. Army) — The Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division, said farewell to outgoing commander Col. Lonnie G. Hibbard and welcomed incoming commander Col. Carey M. Wagen in a change of command ceremony held in the 127th Aviation Support Battalion hangar, July 18.
Hibbard took command of the CAB Sept. 1, 2011, at Fort Hood, Texas, when it was still the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. The unit moved to Fort Bliss in accordance with Base Realignment and Closure, uncased its colors and stood up September 20, 2011.
“Before ever arriving on Fort Bliss, Lonnie and his team immediately began developing effective systems, building combat power and working with the installation command, the Directorate of Public Works, and the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure they had the maintenance facilities and hangar space to support a combat aviation brigade,” said Maj. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, 1st AD and Fort Bliss commanding general. “The result is a CAB footprint that is the envy of the entire aviation community.”
Since the re-stationing of the CAB to Fort Bliss, the “Iron Eagles” participated in numerous training exercises, to include the installation-wide training event known as Iron Focus, three Network Integration Exercises and the three-month-long culminating training event that simultaneously deployed the entire brigade to five different locations throughout the southern United States.
In December of 2012, Hibbard led the CAB through its self-deployment of the 4th Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, Attack Reconnaissance Battalion to Operation Spartan Shield in Kuwait. The following February he saw Task Forces Dragon, Iron Knights and Apocalypse deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“We have an exceptional group of motivated and dedicated officers, warrant officers, noncommissioned officers and Soldiers that are focused on providing the best mission support possible,” Hibbard said. “These Soldiers understand that everyone is equally important and they all are key to the successes of this organization.”
“You are the founding father of the 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade here at Fort Bliss,” said MacFarland to Hibbard. “By standing up this brigade and making it ready for combat operations anywhere in the world, you have made a historic contribution to this installation and to the First Armored Division.”
Incoming commander, Col. Carey M. Wagen comes to the CAB from United States Army Forces Command Headquarters where she served as the deputy director of Aviation.
Wagen, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot and two-time combat veteran of OEF, is the first female commander of a combat aviation brigade and second female commander of an aviation brigade.
“You’ve had a tremendous journey and created some big shoes to fill, but I promise you I will bring home the rest of the Iron Eagles and rebuild the team to prepare for the next challenge,” Wagen said, addressing Hibbard and his wife, Gail.