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Minnesota National Guard
New commander for New Ulm artillery battalion

LITTLE FALLS, Minn - The New Ulm-based 1st Battalion, 125th Field Artillery (1-125 FA) held its battalion change of command ceremony on Sep 8, 2012 at Camp Ripley   Approximately 60 guests and nearly 600 Soldiers of the battalion were in attendance  Col Jon Jensen, the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division commander presided over the ceremony, transferring command of the 1-125 FA from Lt. Col. Troy Soukup to Lt. Col.  Randy Erickson

The official party consisted of Soukup, Erickson, Jensen, Chaplain (Capt) George Messer and Command Sgt Maj Joseph Eustice  The New Ulm Battery, a civil war era reenactment team from the New Ulm area was also in attendance  The New Ulm Battery fired three rounds from their cannon throughout the ceremony, the first following the last note of the national anthem in the opening sequence of the ceremony

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After the passing of the battalion colors to Erickson from Jensen, Soukup was presented a framed replica of the battalion colors on behalf of the Soldiers of the 1-125 FA  In his remarks, Jensen praised the battalion’s performance thanking Soukup and charged Erickson with the responsibility of continued excellence in the battalion

"To my wife Melissa, my kids Megan, Madison, Thor, and Taylor and my parents Roger and Sharon, thank you for your support through multiple deployments and many years of Army service,” Soukup said during his remarks  “You and all of our families are truly the strength behind what we do"  

He then requested a moment of silence to honor the fallen that were lost during the battalion’s deployment in support of Operation Iraq Freedom in 2005-2007

Soukup went on to quote former President Ronald Reagan "Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don't interfere as long as the policy you've decided upon is being carried out" 

He closed by stating, "1-125 FA, you have a right to be proud of your accomplishments, both forward in the Middle East and here in Minnesota conducting battalion operations and supporting the families  I am proud and thankful for the sacrifices our Soldiers make, and I will never forget the sacrifices our families make as we serve this great nation"

Erickson opened his remarks by thanking Jensen for the opportunity and for his trust and confidence  He went on to praise Soukup by saying, "I know this command is in great shape because of Lt. Col. Soukup’s three years of outstanding leadership  This is evident in the professional conduct of the leaders, the readiness of the unit and the morale of the Soldiers"

Erickson closed with, "To the men and women of the 1-125 FA, You are the exceptional professionals  I'm extremely proud and humbled to be your commander and I promise you my best efforts  I will work tirelessly every day of my command to ensure we get to where we need to be  I will likewise count on each of you to bring your best efforts every day, and I know you will - STEEL RAIN!"

The ceremony concluded with the playing of the Army Song and the second round fired by the New Ulm Battery  As the outgoing battalion commander, Soukup had the honor of firing the third and final round to conclude the ceremony

By Capt Michael Graves
1-125 FA, Unit Public Affairs Representative
Sept 18, 2012

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