3rd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery Regiment changes command

Written by  //  November 8, 2011  //  Feature Stories, News

By Capt. Theresa R. DiPinto

AVON PARK, Fla. (Nov. 6, 2011) – The Florida National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery Regiment handed the reins over to a new leader as Maj. David Pellett assumed command during a formal ceremony in Avon Park, Fla. Family, friends, Soldiers and colleagues stood by as Pellett took responsibility for the battalion, headquartered in Plant City, Nov. 6.

Soldiers from the Florida National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery Regiment salute during a change of command ceremony, Nov. 6, 2011, in Avon Park, Fla. Maj. David Pellet took responsibility for the battalion from outgoing commander Lt. Col. Stephen Dowdie. Photo by Capt. Theresa DiPinto

The outgoing commander, Lt. Col. Stephen Dowdie, expressed mixed emotions at having to relinquish control of a unit he has been a member of for 27 years. “Though this day is filled with emotion, I will part with great pride and gratitude at having been a part of an organization that is representative of everything that makes the U.S. Army and the Florida National Guard as great as it is,” said Dowdie in his closing remarks.

A slew of emotions accompanied Pellett as well, who pondered the challenges awaiting him. “I’m excited about it…but I’m also nervous too. It’s a huge unit within the brigade,” said Pellett.

Most recently, Pellett served as the Operations Officer mobilized to Washington D.C. with Task Force Knight of the 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, so positions of growing responsibility are nothing new to him. He said he “hope(s) to integrate the 3-116th more into the Brigade” by giving them opportunities for cross-training and participation in the National Capital Region (NCR) mission in D.C.

The 164th Brigade Commander, Brig. Gen, Frank Laudano, came to both thank Dowdie for his superior service and welcome Pellett to the Field Artillery battalion. His words held special meaning as Laudano considers the 3-116th his battalion. The ceremony on Sunday marked the first time Laudano was honored with a ruffle and a flourish – an old tradition marking the presence of high-level leadership – since he earned his star in December of 2010. “Fitting for it to be today, in front of my old battalion,” beamed Laudano.

As the ceremony came to a close, Pellett focused his attention to the Soldiers of his new battalion. “I have faith that you will not only accomplish these tasks, but also surpass all expectations,” said Pellett.

The 116th Field Artillery Regiment was constituted on September 18, 1917, when its members were a mix of National Guard personnel from Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The 3rd Battalion was inactivated in 1968 and reactivated for service in 1984. Currently, the unit is phasing out their old Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) and will begin fielding the new High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in 2012 under the leadership of Maj. Pellett.