On Feb. 1, the 2nd Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment “Steel,” 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, honored their outgoing Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Donald L. Cherry Jr., a native of Bolivar, Tennessee, and welcomed the incoming Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Aaron M. Thomas, a native of Paola, Kansas, during a Change of Command ceremony here.
A change of command ceremony denotes a key leadership transition, which is symbolized by the Passing of the Colors. This tradition is marked by the Battalion’s Command Sgt. Maj., Paul Fluharty, passing the battalion flag to Cherry, who then passes it, thereby relinquishing his command, to the Brigade Commander Col. David J. Zinn. Zinn then passes the flag to Thomas, which symbolizes that the authority and command of the battalion has been entrusted to him.
Cherry led the Steel Battalion for the past two years. His accomplishments during this time include performing as the Brigade’s Fire Support Coordinator, leading the battalion through a Joint Readiness Training Center rotation nine months after a redeployment, supporting the brigade’s Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise and Warhorse Strike, supporting the brigade in Afghanistan with fire supporters and integrators at the brigade level in order to support their mission on the ground, massing fires as a battalion during artillery table 18s for the first time in 10 years, successfully deploying a battery to Afghanistan, supporting joint fire exercises with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army Special Forces, destroying 90% of the brigade’s high value targets and enabling the steel gunners to shoot more than 7000 artillery rounds and their fire supports to observe more than 800 fire missions.
Cherry is a leader who consistently made tough decisions, always choosing the ‘harder right’ over the ‘easier wrong,’ said Zinn, during the ceremony.
As Cherry bids farewell to Fort Carson and the Steel Soldiers he prepares to move to Germany where he will take over as the Deputy Brigade Commander of the new Fires Brigade there.
However saddened at the departure of the Cherry Family, the Steel Warriors welcome with open arms a true professional, Thomas and his wife.
Thomas’ combat experience, with one deployment to Afghanistan and three in Iraq, and his enthusiasm to continue to provide lethal and integrated fires will prove crucial as the battalion gets ready for an intensive training cycle, according to Zinn.
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