“An opportunity to salute two great soldiers and their families,” is the way that retired Army Chaplain Col. Sonny Moore began his invocation at the Change of Responsibility and Retirement Ceremony held Friday, Nov. 20, at the Fort Rucker Parade Field.

The ceremony was held in accordance with COVID-19 pandemic mandates of face masks and social distancing for those in attendance. It was also live streamed on the internet and social media for those attending virtually.

The ceremony marked the proverbial passing of the baton of leadership from Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Hauke to Command Sgt. Maj. James D. Wilson. It also marked the retirement after more than a half century of combined military service for Hauke and his wife, Lisa, who is an Army major.

“The Haukes are loved and admired by the Army because they have led from the front, given their best, made their mark and they have always gone the second mile for soldiers and families,” Moore said in his invocation. “The team will be greatly missed.

“Today we welcome James Wilson and his wife, Lisa,” Moore continued. “We believe that You (God) have sent them here for such a time as this—to teach, coach and care for soldiers and to help Maj. Gen. David Francis and his team to lead during these challenging days.”

Francis is the United States Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker Commanding General. He called Hauke a “premier leader in Army Aviation.”

The Change of Responsibility Ceremony is “a time honored tradition that is rich with symbolism and heritage,” Francis said. “As we boil down what we do here (at Fort Rucker), it really comes to two things.

“We develop leaders and we drive change. Hauke has set the bar high in both of these areas.

“The command sergeant major of the Aviation Branch is charged with the responsibility of taking care of soldiers and (Hauke) has done a phenomenal job of executing not only those responsibilities but countless more,” Francis said. “His contributions and achievements have placed (Hauke) in the top tier of noncommissioned leadership in our Army today.

“In spirit and deed, (Hauke) has lived the Soldier’s Creed. He has always placed the mission first,” Francis added. “During his tenure as the sergeant major of the branch he provided focused guidance, oversight and resources required for the three training brigades and the two noncommissioned academies responsible for training over 23,000 soldiers, warrant officers and commissioned officers as well as 1,400 international students from over 43 countries.

“Brian, your remarkable efforts in mentoring senior leaders Army-wide did not go unnoticed,” Francis said. “Physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient, expert and professional. These words listed in the Soldier’s Creed are traits embodied in Command Sgt. Maj. Hauke’s very character and are clearly visible in his day to day actions.

“What a fantastic day to celebrate the careers of a great noncommissioned officer and a great officer— and to bring in a new team here at Fort Rucker,” Francis said about the Haukes and the Wilsons.

Francis also noted that five generations of Haukes were seated in the reviewing stands. “Four of those generations have served or are currently serving in uniform,” he said.

Francis introduced Hauke’s 100-year-old grandfather, William Hauke, who flew B-29s in World War II and over flew the Japanese Surrender Ceremony on the USS Missouri in Japan in 1945.

Hauke’s father, Bruce, served two tours of duty in Vietnam as a Navy Seabee.

Hauke’s son Jacob and daughter in law Kendall are both sergeants in the Army serving on active duty. Representing the fifth generation of Haukes was their almost-three-year-old son Jayden, who sat quietly in the stands holding his toy truck. Quiet until his grandfather asked from his post on the parade field, “Want to go fast, Buddy?”

“Yes,” the child answered with a grin.

Hauke retired after more than 30 years of military service, the last 11 of which have been as command sergeant major. His wife retired after more than 26 years of service, the last 20 of which have been as a commissioned officer. The couple plan to live near family in Central Florida.

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