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17th Fires welcomes its new commander

Northwest Guardian

Published: 01:06PM July 18th, 2013
17th Fires welcomes its new commander

Christopher Gaylord/Northwest Guardian

Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, 7th Inf. Div. commanding general, passes the 17th Fires Bde. colors to Col. Timothy Kehoe during a ceremony at Watkins Field on JBLM Monday in which Kehoe assumed command of the brigade.

Colonel Tim Kehoe had a clear view of Mount Rainier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Watkins Field Monday. Not the kind he remembers from his two years here as a battalion commander between 2007 and 2009.

“It’s the best view I’ve ever had from Watkins Field,” Kehoe told an audience of Soldiers, families, and military retirees after taking command of the 17th Fires Brigade from Col. Ken Kamper during a ceremony Monday.

It was a fitting view for the new commander, who returned to the fires brigade that was higher headquarters for the battalion he led in the summer of 2007 when the brigade activated on JBLM.

“It’s fantastic being back to the brigade,” said Kehoe, who returns most recently from the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pa. after four years away from JBLM. “These Soldiers are fantastic; they’ve got a great reputation for all they’ve done over the last few years, and it’s just very exciting to be back amongst Soldiers.”

Lanza called Kehoe a battle-tested leader with the right skills and experience to command the brigade. But as the new commander came on board, he expressed no intentions of doing anything differently apart from his predecessor.

“I don’t plan on changing a whole lot,” he said. “This brigade has been doing things very well for a long time.

Kamper, whose long history of JBLM service included a staff officer position with I Corps and a 15-month Iraq deployment as a Stryker brigade field artillery battalion commander, commanded the 17th Fires Bde. since December 2010.

Major General Stephen Lanza, 7th Infantry Division commanding general, said before the Army reactivated the 7th Inf. Div. in October, Kamper played a key role in supporting the training of the base’s three Stryker brigades and its engineer brigade as the units prepared for Afghanistan deployments.

After the brigades deployed, Lanza said, Kamper became a senior mentor for the units’ rear detachment elements left behind at JBLM.

“Colonel Ken Kamper played a vital role in supporting their successes as well as all deploying units in this division in the last two years,” Lanza said.

Lanza said Kamper exemplified the characteristics of a team player in his partnership with units the 17th Fires Bde. worked alongside and supported.

“As Army leaders, we know that as you build a team of teams, we focus on the team you build, the team you partner with, and the team you support, and Ken, you embody this,” he told Kamper, who stood beside Lanza ready to give his farewell to the JBLM community.

Kamper insisted the ceremony was about recognizing the Soldiers he had commanded — not the incoming or outgoing commanders. He reminded them that people make the Army what it is.

“You matter,” he told them. “Each of your dreams, and goals and aspirations, is important.”

“I’m proud of each teammate on this team,” he said. “I’m proud of this team for their sense of purpose and their dedication to that purpose.”

Kamper moves on to the Army War College.