More than 200 unit colors and guidons representing the 82nd Airborne Division’s six brigades moved to the center of Pike Field on Fort Bragg, Oct. 4 as the division hosted yet another historic event.
Maj. Gen. Jim Huggins and Command Sgt. Maj. Bryant Lambert simultaneously relinquished command and responsibility to Maj. Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr. and Command Sgt. Maj. LaMarquis Knowles during the ceremony. Lt. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg commanding general, was the reviewing officer for the ceremony.
Nicholson was commissioned into the infantry in 1982 upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point. During his first tour in the division, he served as commander of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. More recently, Nicholson deployed in support of OEF as deputy chief of staff, operations for NATO International Security Assistance Force from late 2010 to early 2012.
“He has answered our nation’s call in some of the toughest situations we could imagine. Best of luck to you as you lead America’s finest I know you will do great and I am proud to hand the colors to you,” said Huggins to Nicholson.
“It is a tremendous honor and a responsibility which I accept with the greatest humility and the utmost commitment to serve the nation and these paratroopers to the best of my abilities,” said Nicholson
Knowles entered the United States Army in September 1983. From serving as a platoon sergeant to brigade command sergeant major, Knowles has led troops at all levels within the 82nd, deploying multiple times during operations OEF and OIF. Knowles most recently served as the command sergeant major for the Joint Readiness Training Center and post command sergeant major, Fort Polk, La.
Allyn spoke to the new division command team saying, “General Nicholson and Command Sergeant Major Knowles, take great care of these paratroopers and their Families. The nation will call on us and I know the 82nd Airborne Division will be ready.”
Huggins and Lambert assumed command and responsibility of the All-American Division in mid 2010; in September 2011 they deployed and served as the command team of Regional Command-South and Combined Joint Task Force-82 during Operation Enduring Freedom XII in southern Afghanistan.
“Jim and Bryant have led this division with distinction over the past twenty-six months where again and again demands on the battlefield required responsive actions from the All-American command team to deploy trained and ready forces on short notice, beyond their current battle focus. Every time their superbly led units have delivered, on time, on target and with absolute mission success,” said Allyn.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is not the maroon beret that makes this division special, it is each of the noncommissioned officers in this great division. Thank you all for your leadership. It will always be the legacy of the 82nd Airborne Division,” said Huggins.
Task Force All-American deployed almost 10,000 paratroopers over the past year in support of OEF in full partnership with Afghan National Security Forces.
This is the first time the 82nd Airborne Division commander and command sergeant major have transitioned at the same ceremony.