Blackhorse Troop Leadership Change, Muqdadiyah, Iraq

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Capt. Alejandro Rameriz gives up command
MUQDADIYAH, Iraq Surrendering his unit’s guidon, Capt. Alejandro Alex Rameriz, (left) gives up command of B Troop, 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Lt. Col. Arthur A. Kandarian (right) presided over the ceremony. He commands 1st Squadron.

MUQDADIYAH, Iraq – Soldiers from B Troop, 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, said goodbye to the only commander they have ever known.

Capt. Alejandro “Alex” Rameriz relinquished command of the unit to Capt. Daniel Ganci during a ceremony at Forward Operating Base Normandy. Rameriz took command of the unit when it was Troop B, 3rd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, and led the Blackhorse Troop during its initial deployment from Fort Campbell, Ky., to Iraq.

“Capt. Rameriz is the first ‘Blackhorse 6’ (unit commander),” said Lt. Col. Arthur A. Kandarian, commander, 1-32 Cavalry. “Stand tall and proud and know you made a great difference, not only to Blackhorse, but also to the Iraqi Army.

“You execute missions you were never designed, organized or equipped to execute, yet you do so always with great confidence and great results.”

Kandarian said the Blackhorse Troop continues to operate “in one of the most contentious areas in Iraq.” He noted that the troop’s 1st Platoon was not standing in formation with the rest of the unit due to its ongoing commitments in another sector.

The ceremony was highlighted by the time-honored tradition of passing the unit guidon from the outgoing commander to the battalion commander who in turn presents it to the incoming commander. After Ganci took the guidon from Kandarian, he returned it to 1st Sgt. Michael Crosby, of Montgomery, Ala., to signify his accession to command.

Ganci, 28, is a Staten Island, N.Y., native. He is a 2000 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and comes to the Blackhorse from the 1st Brigade Combat Team where he served as a training officer and a battle captain. He has also served at Fort Stewart, Ga., and in Kuwait.

“You are the right man at the right time in the Blackhorse unit history to take command,” Kandarian said. “You now have the official authority and responsibility for command as stated in Army command policy.

“You have my full faith and confidence. I know that Blackhorse will continue to excel.”

During an emotional speech, Rameriz thanked his officers, noncommissioned officers and Soldiers for their efforts and recalled many of the operations his unit had pursued during its months in Iraq. In addition to conducting combat operations out of numerous bases in northern Iraq, the unit helped train Iraqi Army Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 5th Division.

A former drill sergeant, Rameriz is a Maitland, Fla., native who was a cavalry scout before earning his commission in 2000 via Officer Candidate School. He has also served at Fort Knox, Ky.; Vilseck, Germany; and at Fort Benning, Ga., and now moves to the 101st Airborne Division staff.

“Blackhorse, you have done it all,” Rameriz said. “I could stay here all day and talk about each of you, but I would be here until midnight.”

Wearing golden spurs on his boots, Rameriz paid homage to the unit’s lone casualty, Pfc. Scott Messer. He said Messer was “a confident reminder of what a professional Soldier should be.”

Rameriz also cited two Blackhorse Soldiers who were wounded and were back at Fort Campbell recovering from their injuries. He said both Soldiers wanted to rejoin the unit.

“If they were here, I would tell them, ‘Don’t worry, you are by our side right now,'” Rameriz said.

Kandarian challenged the Blackhorse Troop Soldiers to cherish the time they are together before they left out to their posts on the surrounding bases. He said they would confront many more challenges under Ganci’s leadership.

“No one knows or can tell when this group will be together again,” Kandarian said. “Enjoy this moment as brothers and afterwards continue the mission.”

Specialist Lee Elder is a photographer and writer with the 133d Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, based in Iraq.