JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. — Col. Rick Zampelli assumed command of the 128th Aviation Brigade from Col. John Smith during a change of command ceremony at Joint Base Langley-Eustis July 28.
During the time-honored tradition, Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, passed the colors to Zampelli, demonstrating his confidence in the new commander’s ability to handle the responsibility of command and maintain the unit with discipline.
Following the passing of the colors, Gayler praised Soldiers and leaders within the brigade and reminded them of the significance of their job.
“We are charged in this brigade with our nation’s greatest treasure because our most valuable resource is and always will be our Soldiers,” said Gayler. “These Soldiers that are on the field today represent the life blood of the Aviation Branch. They represent a commitment to producing combat power anywhere in the world.”
During Smith’s time with the brigade, more than 11,000 warrant officers, noncommissioned officers and Soldiers were trained in 12 different programs of instruction. Smith will now go on to serve within the Defense Logistics Agency at Fort Lee.
“I am within the final hour of the greatest assignment I have ever had and quite possibly will have,” said Smith. “The Soldiers on the field today, the families in the audience and our dedicated civilians are what is right with America.”
Zampelli comes to Joint Base Langley-Eustis after serving as the Army Capabilities Integration Center Force 2025 director.
“The brigade works tirelessly to ensure that every Soldier who passes through its doors has every opportunity to become a part of something bigger than they ever could imagine and continue their transition into the profession of arms,” said Zampelli. “I’m humbled and proud to be a part of the team and I look forward to serving alongside each and every one of you.”
Leaders and instructors within the 128th Avn. Bde. work to carry on the proud traditions of those who have gone before, ensuring training is realistic, relevant and rigorous, enabling graduates to make an immediate and positive impact at their first duty assignment.
Ceremony attendees closed the event by singing the Aviation Branch song and the Army song.