Lieutenant Colonel Jose Enrique Melendez relinquished Command to Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Weinrich at the Golden Knights’ Team Hangar at Pope Army Airfield on Wednesday July 23, 2014.
The day began with extreme hustle and bustle around the area. The local radio and television were continually announcing the Change of Command for the US Army Parachute Team Golden Knights. The Soldiers were taking care of all the final details, reviewing the set up, podium, seating chart and the Aviation section had strategically placed the team aircraft in position for the ceremony. Media Relations was busy greeting and escorting media outlets, preparing camera’s, documenting guest as they were escorted to their assigned seats.
Colonel Cavanaugh, Accessions Support Brigade Commander thanked LTC Melendez for all of his dedication and service to the team and Soldiers. COL Cavanaugh presented him an award and then LTC Melendez administered this significant final promotion to Staff Sergeant David Flynn.
Gold Demonstration Teams’ SSG Sherri Jo Gallagher, Master of Ceremonies announced the entrance of the Official Party and former Golden Knight and event coordinator Darrin Grim did the Invocation, followed by the playing of the National Anthem, presentation of flowers to the wives and children followed by the Change of Command Ceremony.
The Battalion staunchly stood at attention as the backlit images of the radiant fleet of team aircraft glistened brightly overhead. Command Sergeant Major Thomas Holland called order to the statuesque troops as SSG Kenneth Severn marched in donning the Golden Knight Team Colors. The Official Party entered and all stood in a symmetrical square facing one another. CSM Holland passed the colors to LTC Melendez who passed them to his Commander COL Cavanaugh who in return passed them to the new team Commander LTC Weinrich, who returned them to CSM Holland.
COL Cavanaugh addressed Major General Chinn, family alumni and team command with gratitude and reflection on the day’s event.
LTC Melendez and said, “ It feels like it was yesterday that I was at this podium getting ready to embark in what now I attest to what would be the greatest two years of my military career. The man and woman standing in front of us are the ones who make this organization so successful. They are honored to represent the Soldiers past and present and those who’s have made the ultimate sacrifice to America and illustrate what it’s all about to be an American Soldier… I’ve just been lucky to be part of it.” He will be returning to the DC area with his wife Rosario and daughter Lyanne.
LTC Weinrich is coming to the team from the 75th Ranger Regiment as the Chief of Ranger Operations for the U. S. Army Special Operations Command joined by his wife Leigh and three children. LTC Weinrich thanked the honored guest, family, friends team members, alumni and many great NCO’s he had the honor to work with over his career, that have molded him into the Officer he is today. LTC Weinrich said, “I am honored to be part of this organization and will work every day to provide the Team the space needed to continue the success and innovation that LTC Melendez has fostered.”
The Golden Knight March that was written by the legionary Spider Wrenn was played and the ceremony closed with the Army Song. Team members filed through with farewell hugs, tears and laughter with the Melendez family and a crowded room of welcome greeters gathered in the Spider Wrenn day room in the headquarters building to share bread and fellowship with the newest Commander of the USAPT.