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Minnesota National Guard
34th CAB Welcomes a New Commander

The 34th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) Commander Col R Clay Brock Jr turned over command to Col Michael Huddleston at the Change of Command Ceremony, held at the Army Aviation Support Facility #1 in St Paul, Minn, on Oct 3

"It is a great honor to be selected to lead and mentor such a fine organization," said Col Huddleston, incoming 34th CAB Commander "I have been in the military since 1983, and my wife Nancy and I have always thought that some day we too would like to be a brigade command team"

A team of senior Minnesota National Guard leaders came together, narrowed the list of candidates, and selected a new brigade commander

"There were several folks that I think were well qualified, so I know [Col Huddleston] was excited when the senior leaders made that decision That excitement just transfers over," said Col Brock, outgoing 34th CAB Commander "I've know Mike Huddleston for a long time so there's a lot of excitement"

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Col Huddleston's qualifications include being a master aviator with over 2,500 helicopter flight hours, being awarded the Air Medal, three Meritorious Service Medals among others, and serving as Brigade Executive Officer, Assault Battalion Commander, Attack Battalion Commander, and Director of Army Aviation

"I think for Col Huddleston, he's been very blessed that he's had a lot of flying assignments which has given him the right background to being the commander," Col Brock said "He has amassed a lot of flying time which obviously [converts] to experience in the cockpit which translates to being a brigade commander, because you have oversight into our mission approval process"

Now taking the role of the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade Commander, Col Huddleston wears three hats for the Minnesota National Guard He also serves as the Operations Officer for the state and is the state Army Aviation Officer

"Mike Huddleston has a huge amount of energy; and I think it takes someone like him, with that amount of energy to be able to cover down one of those jobs, much less three of them," Col Brock said "He has a lot of good folks underneath him that help do that, but he brings out a lot of energy and that is going to serve him well"

Although Col Huddleston is qualified for the position, he has large boots to fill following Col Brock's command

"[Col Brock's] caring for Soldiers and the organization is beyond reproach," Col Huddleston said "He has truly done something very special taking the 34th CAB to war and bringing them back That kind of learning from all those good things will take awhile for me to process"

Brig Gen Jeffrey Bertrang, Assistant Minnesota Adjutant General, addressed Col Brock and the audience of the 34th CAB Change of Command Ceremony

"Col Brock, outstanding job You took over the helms of the aviation brigade when it was in transformation, picking up many units from different states Along with that, came a deployment, and again, many units from throughout the nation," Brig Gen Bertrang said "You did it well, you got the units ready, and you got them oriented for the right direction of the future My hat's off to the 34th CAB team"

Also during the ceremony, Command Sgt Maj Gery Thesing, 34th CAB CSM, presented Col Brock with a framed 34th CAB flag, patch and coin to remember his reign as commander Col Brock was also presented with a gift of framed memorabilia from Col Brock's last flight as an Army aviator by Lt. Col. Greg Thingvold, Army Aviation Support Facility (AASF) #1 Commander

Brig Gen Bertrang also addressed Col Huddleston regarding the support of the senior staff "Col Huddleston's vast experience, his dedication and professionalism will do well for him as he takes on this new mission as commander of the CAB," Brig Gen Bertrang said "The senior leadership of the state of Minnesota is fully behind you We support you, we will be there for you, and we know you'll do well Just remember Soldier readiness, safety, and getting units prepared"

Col Huddleston also has the support of the 34th CAB's Command Sgt Maj

"I look forward to being the Command Sgt Maj (CSM) under the command of Col Huddleston," said CSM Gery Thesing, 34th CAB CSM "I would hope we make a good team, we have had a relationship in the past and will continue to build on that"

Col Huddleston officially took over command on Oct 1 Col Brock is scheduled to retire at the end of the month with plans to return to his home state of Texas with his wife, Terri "[Col Brock,] you did a great job throughout your career here in Minnesota, although it was not as long as others," Brig Gen Bertrang said "As you get on with life and retirement, don't forget us"

By Sgt Jodi Krause
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
3 Oct 2009

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