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Wounded warrior unit gets new commander
Outgoing leader headed to Honduras
The Warrior Transition Battalion’s colors are passed to incoming WTB Commander Lt. Col. William Reitemeyer, left, during a change of command ceremony Thursday. Outgoing commander Lt. Col. James Kanicki is at right, behind Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Bekaert. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
Outgoing commander Lt. Col. James Kanicki said his success leading the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Stewart was measured by how well wounded warriors did when they returned to military duty or integrated into civilian life.
Kanicki led the WTB for the past year. He passed the unit’s colors on to incoming commander Lt. Col. William Reitemeyer on Thursday, during a change of command ceremony on Fort Stewart.
“We’ve transitioned close to 200 soldiers this past year,” Kanicki said. The outgoing commander said 41 soldiers who came through the WTB have returned to active duty.
“When they call to tell me they’re OK, that’s what makes me feel proud,” he said.
There are currently 265 soldiers with the WTB. Kanicki said at one point the battalion was down to 210 soldiers, but has increased with the deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, with the majority of wounded soldiers coming to the WTB here from Iraq. The colonel said the WTB could also receive soldiers from two National Guard units that are currently deployed.
Kanicki, who accepted the command at the WTB from Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, said he was honored to serve wounded warriors who he described as “true American heroes.”
“As a leader in the U.S. Army, I’ll command any time I’m asked to command,” he said.
Col. Paul Cordts, commander of Winn Army Community Hospital, said Kanicki was a “genius at cutting through red tape.”
Cordts compared Kanicki’s style of leadership to his skills as an aviator, saying he functioned with “precision-like movements” and enhanced and improved the battalion’s policies, procedures and training during his command.
The outgoing commander, an Army aviator for the past 18 years, couldn’t hide his excitement about his next assignment as battalion commander of the 1-228th Aviation Regiment “Winged Warriors” in Honduras. He said it was not unusual for pilots to be given no-fly assignments over the course of their careers, such as his past year with the WTB.
Kanicki, in his farewell address, said medical personnel, soldiers and civilians who care for wounded, ill and injured soldiers are making a “significant impact” in helping the Army achieve its mission.
Lt. Col. William Reitemeyer, the incoming WTB commander, most recently served with the 7th Special Forces Group and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan.
Reitemeyer said how the American military treats its wounded warriors is a measure of the nation’s character.
“I look forward to serving with — and for — each and every one of you,” he said.
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