Soldiers assigned to Comanche Battery, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), bade farewell to Capt. Leon R. Hilburn and welcomed Capt. Aaron Durham June 14 during a change of command ceremony at Strike Rock on Fort Campbell.
During Hilburn’s 15 months in command, Comanche Battery took on some of the toughest jobs for the battalion, said Lt. Col. Bryan Fanning, commander of 1-320th FAR.
“The first firing battery in the division to test the S-MET [small multipurpose equipment transport system] under live conditions, churning out the highest percentage of Expert Soldier Badge graduates, spending what seemed like about three straight months in the field supporting Strike’s FCX [fire coordination exercise] and CAMLFX [combined arms live fire exercise], the battalion’s own Tables 7 through 12 platoon qualifications, the Ranger’s Gunsmoke mission and the list could go on and on. You’ve done all of these things with exacting and impressive results.”
At his next duty station, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Hilburn will teach gunnery in the Basic Officer Leaders Course and Captains Career Course.
“You’ve left your mark on Comanche and Top Guns and you’ll continue leaving your mark on our Army with the countless number of future officers that will benefit from your mentorship and leadership,” Fanning said.
Hilburn said his time spent with 1-320th FAR taught him more about artillery and leadership than he ever could have imagined.
“I will have a hard time letting go of these responsibilities and the comfortable feeling of taking the doors off and rolling out to the field for another bout of round slinging,” he said.
In parting, he thanked the Soldiers of Comanche Battery for adapting the unit’s mindset and all of their hard work.
Hillburn, a native of Pickens, South Carolina, was pleased to pass the guidon to someone from the same hometown.
“Aaron, first and foremost, I’d like to say you are inheriting an outstanding group of individuals, but an even better team,” Hilburn said. “I have the utmost faith and confidence you are destined to crush command.”
Durham served as 2nd BCT’s assistance fire supporter officer for the past year. In that time, he graduated from The Sabalauski Air Assault School and lead his team through fire support coordination exercise; combined arms maneuver live fire exercise; Operation Lethal Eagle I; and Joint Readiness Training Center-Fort Polk, Louisiana 22-04.
Fanning said he looks forward to seeing Durham at the helm of Comanche Battery.
“I’ve asked some hard things of you in the past and will demand more in the future having seen your leadership and high performance during FCX, CAMLFX, Strike Phoenix, Operation Lethal Eagle I and JRTC in a challenging training environment and high op tempo,” he said.
Durham thanked Top Guns leaders for their mentorship and the opportunity to develop professionally, and also thanked Hilburn for his commitment to Comanche Battery.
“Thank you for your tireless efforts and all of us here today know that they paid off,” he said. “Comanche Battery is staring down the barrel of this deployment and because of your hard work I know we’re ready for anything that comes at us. You’re leaving big shoes to fill, but I promise I’m going to give it my all and take care of this battery.”