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Air Traffic Services Command, 164th TAOG welcomes new commander

Col. Douglas Van Weelden III accepts the unit colors of the Air Traffic Services Command from Brig. Gen. Michael D. Lundy, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, June 25 during a change of command ceremony. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Col. Douglas Van Weelden III accepts the unit colors of the Air Traffic Services Command from Brig. Gen. Michael D. Lundy, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, June 25 during a change of command ceremony. (Photo by Sara E. Martin)

Published: July 7, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 7, 2014) -- Friends, Family and coworkers arrived in droves June 25 to welcome the new commander of the Air Traffic Services Command and 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group and to bid farewell to the outgoing senior officer.

Col. Douglas Van Weelden III assumed command from Col. Michael Shenk during a unique change of command ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.

Ceremonial colors were circulated twice through the ceremony as Shenk commanded both TAOG and ATSCOM, a position that is unique in both the Army and Fort Rucker.

Brig. Gen. Michael D. Lundy, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, presented Van Weelden with the unit colors and congratulated him on his promotion to commander.

“(Van Weelden), you and (your wife) are exactly the right team (to take command). I have no doubt about that,” he said. “You have an exciting and rewarding two years ahead that will probably be the most exciting and rewarding two years of your career. There is no greater honor than to be charged with commanding Soldiers – and I know you’re all in for the mission, for them and for their Families.”

Lundy also remarked on TAOG’s and ATSCOM’s unique mission.

“When you’re one-of-a-kind you have to shoulder the entire load 24/7, 365 days a year, around the world with really no backup,” he said. “Air traffic control Soldiers often do their best work with just a radio and a piece of paper.  It’s not technology that makes them great – it’s their intellect and their imagination that allows them to visualize in three directions, to describe and direct, to be able to keep all those moving pieces safely operating in very complex airspace around the world.”

Lundy continued by saying that Shenk’s leadership ensured that air traffic services across the Army, at home and abroad, kept everything moving safely and efficiently at the point of greatest friction of every mission that Army Aviation executes.

“It is a daunting task and these Soldiers are the calming voice of our branch. They bring sanity to what often could be considered chaos at the start and conclusion of every mission that Army Aviation executes,” he said, adding that he knows Shenk is very proud of this team and these Soldiers.

“Mike is a humble, professional leader that always leads by example. Thanks for all you have done … you set the bar high. You made a lasting impression on these Soldiers and our Army,” he said. “I know after you leave today … and pull through the gates of the home of Army Aviation … you will have a hole in your heart. But take comfort, you are handing the controls to another superb commander and he will take great care of these Soldiers and their Families.”

Shenk extended his best wishes to Van Weelden, adding he hopes Van Weelden finds command to be very rewarding and that he enjoys the relationships he will build with the Soldiers and civilians.

Van Weelden thanked Shenk for a “very” warm welcome during the transition, and wished him well in retirement.

“You are a (true) professional whose caring concern is evident in the magnificent organization and legacy you have left,” he said.

The new commander said he is excited to become a member of the 164th TAOG and ATSCOM teams.

“The professional and exemplary reputation of these teams is a direct reflection of the caliber of its leaders, Soldiers and civilian members,” he said. “I look forward to being a part of such an outstanding team as we face future challenges and find opportunities.”

Van Weelden said he was absolutely thrilled to be back in the Wiregrass, adding that he was last here in 1998.

“This is a great community and a great post, I am very happy to be back. I was very surprised when I was told I would be taking command,” he continued. “It is such an honor to be selected for command, especially at this level. We are getting into the time where there is going to be a lot of challenges and a lot of change, but the beauty of that is it takes great Soldiers and leaders to get through it. I am looking forward to it.”

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/129545/

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