Ever wonder what they talk about out there during a US Army Change of Command Ceremony?
8 September, 1997 1107 hours
Fort Riley, Kansas
The gathered VIPs and guests were stunned. Nobody had ever done that
at a Change of Command! After several minutes the flames died down and the medics were able to revive the wife of the Commanding General. The General gave the nod to continue the ceremony.
The narrator ineffectively used the back of his sleeve to wipe the mud from his face, then continued reading the script. "Now is the most solemn part of the ceremony, where the passing of the guidon
from the Outgoing Commander, to the Incoming Commander symbolizes the passing of authority to command."
The Garrison Commander stood before the podium, centered on the hundreds of soldiers assigned to the Garrison Headquarters Company. To his right stood the Outgoing Commander, to his left the Incoming Commander. The three came to attention, and marched in step until they stood before the grizzled company First Sergeant.
Seeing the key players in place, the narrator resumed reading the script. "In accordance with Army Regulation . . ."
As the narrator continued reading the assumption of command orders, the First Sergeant stepped forward and handed the guidon to the Outgoing Commander. "Take this damn thing. It's heavy and I'm tired of holding it," he whispered quietly.
"Uh Uh, not so fast, Top!" the commander said, pushing it back with both hands. "It's got a little speck of mud near the bottom and it might muss up my boots!"
"Looky here, sir," snarled the First Sergeant, "I wiped the mud from where you have to hold it! Besides, if you keep it slanted, that speck of mud won't come near your boots."
And with that the First Sergeant thrust the guidon into the hands of the Outgoing Commander with such force that it spun him around so that he faced the Garrison Commander. Narrowly avoiding trodding upon the Garrison Commander's boots, he extended the guidon with both hands in an effort to retain his balance.
The Garrison Commander grabbed the guidon with both hands to steady him. "Not so fast, son. I see you're still a bit wobbley from the big party last night." The older man chuckled and maintained a firm grip. "Why don't you just hang on a bit until things steady down."
"Great sir, thanks", stammered the Outgoing Commander, eyes closed, his white knuckles indicating a death-grip on the wooden staff. "That really was something last night! You feeling OK?"
"Actually, I got one helluva hangover," said the Colonel. "Nap time over, son. Let go of this blasted thing so we can get out of here."
With that he wrenched the guidon from the grip of the Outgoing Commander and thrust it into the hands of the Incoming Commander.
"Hey, what's this thing?" exclaimed the Incoming Commander. He tried to push it back with both hands. "I don't want it!"
to take it!", growled the Garrison Commander. "That's what you get for losing your pistol during that last Field Training Exercise".
The Incoming Commander, acting as if the flag staff were red hot, quickly turned and flung it into the waiting hands of the First Sergeant.
"Don't lose it . . . it's on my property book! And get someone to clean off that bit of mud down there!"