FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Jun. 29, 2012) – In a precedent setting ceremony for the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command, Chief Warrant Officer 5 David F. Cooper relinquished Command Chief Warrant Officer responsibility to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Robert D. Witzler. The Army is implementing CCWO positions in all Combat Aviation Brigades, so numerous warrant officers were on hand to witness the sequence of events. The CCWO serves as a technical expert in the command group and acts as a mentor to unit members.
The ceremony included elements from traditional change of command and change of responsibility ceremonies, which Cooper said was to honor their traditions. The warrant officers also passed the guidon, which Cooper explained showed the commander’s trust in the senior warrant officer. “Passing the colors makes a subtle yet powerful statement that this position is fully integrated into the command. The CCWO passing the colors serves to enhance the rich traditions of this ceremonial act.”
Col. Clayton M. Hutmacher, USASOAC Commanding Officer, presided over the ceremony on Meadows Field at the USASOC headquarters. Members of the 82nd Division band performed music at the ceremony. Warrant Officers on the field represented the USASOAC units.
Cooper became the first CCWO of USASOAC when the unit provisionally activated in March 2011. Of the position, Cooper said, “the CCWO is the senior warrant officer advisor to the commander, providing the utmost leadership and mentorship for all warrant officers in the command, giving sound advice to the command’s officers and showing care and compassion for all Soldiers and their families.” Later in the day, the Distinguished Service Cross recipient and member of the Army Aviation Association Hall of Fame retired after 27 years of service.
Witzler assumed responsibility following an assignment as Regimental Warrant Officer of the 160th Special Operations Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Ky. Witzler’s time as RWO prepared him well for this new position, as he said, “the culture of the 160th begins with the fundamental assertion that the customer comes first, and ends with sincere personal pride in the products we provide. Here at ARSOAC, our customers are all the units providing world class aviation support to Special Operations Forces, and that same ethos will continue to guide my service.”
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