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Above the Best: Fort Rucker, USAACE welcome new commanding general

Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler speaks shortly after assuming command of USAACE and Fort Rucker during a change of command ceremony April 6 at Howze Field. (Photo by Kelly Morris)

Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler speaks shortly after assuming command of USAACE and Fort Rucker during a change of command ceremony April 6 at Howze Field. (Photo by Kelly Morris)

Published: April 14, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 14, 2016) -- A crowd of Soldiers, family and friends, and members of the community gathered at Howze Field April 6 to welcome a new commanding general to the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker.

Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler, USAACE and Fort Rucker commanding general, assumed command from Maj. Gen.  Michael D. Lundy during a formal change of command ceremony.

Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown, commanding general of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, hosted the ceremony. He commended the Lundy and Gayler families, and emphasized the importance of community support to Army Aviation and its leadership.

“It’s leaders like Bill and Mike, for sure, but it’s this community, and this tremendous gathering of retired leaders, general officers, sergeants major, warrant officers and our community leadership that produces the greatest Aviators in the world and makes this the greatest aviation training center in the world,” Brown said.

Gayler comes to Fort Rucker from U.S. Army Europe where he served as deputy commanding general.

Gayler is no stranger to Fort Rucker. Commissioned as an Aviation officer in 1988, he served as deputy director of the Directorate of Evaluation and Standardization, and as aide-de-camp to a former USAACE commanding general.

He previously commanded the 3-101st Aviation Regiment (“Eagle Attack”) and 101st Combat Aviation Brigade (“Destiny”) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He served as deputy commanding general (Support), 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; and director of the Officer Personnel Management Directorate, Human Resources Command.

His deployments include Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and multiple deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

During the ceremony, the U.S. Army Aviation Colors were passed from Lundy to Brown to Gayler, signifying the transfer of command from outgoing to incoming commander.

Brown described Gayler as a proven combat leader who builds solid teams and encourages leaders to take initiative.

“I have no doubt Bill will open an exciting new chapter at our nation’s premiere Aviation institution,” Brown said.

Brown said Gayler has the “perfect background” for the job, having led combat Aviation units around the world.

“He just knows how important it is for us to offer the very best training, the best concepts for our Army, the best doctrine, the best education so our forces can excel at any mission called upon in this increasingly complex operating environment,” Brown said.

Gayler thanked attendees and Soldiers on the field who stood in formation on the parade field behind him against a backdrop of Army helicopters.

“My family and I are absolutely honored and humbled at this opportunity to come back home,” Gayler said. “The privilege of leading this Branch, and the Fort Rucker installation and community is certainly not lost on us one single bit.”

Gayler commended the Lundys for their leadership over the previous two years.

“Your fingerprints, Mike, are all over the most complex and timely events that are occurring in our Army and in our Branch, and those fingerprints will be on those events for many, many years to come.”

Brown spoke about Lundy’s vision and innovation as a leader, and for making tough choices for the Branch with the Army’s Aviation Restructure Initiative.

“I told Mike there’s nothing he’ll have to do any time in the future that could be tougher than ARI. It’s a very tough thing, but boy did they do it well here as a team…. We had to make some tough decisions but it’s going to help us in the future and we are already seeing the benefits,” Brown said.

Lundy thanked the local community for their support to Soldiers and families. He said his two years as Branch chief were the most rewarding years of his career, and he thanked Soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians across the Aviation enterprise.

“It’s because of you our Branch will remain the best Aviation force in the world, and truly an asymmetric advantage for our nation,” Lundy said.

The USAACE commanding general serves as the Army Aviation Branch chief, as well as the commanding general of USAACE and Fort Rucker. He is responsible for training approximately 20,000 Aviation students per year, including training Aviators at Fort Rucker, Aviation maintainers at Fort Eustis, Virginia, and unmanned aircraft systems operators and warrant officer technicians at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. The USAACE develops Army requirements for the Aviation Branch.

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