REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (WHNT) - Sunshine and family -- you couldn't ask for a better day to celebrate the U.S. Army 2nd Recruiting Brigade's Change of Command. It was a time for Col. David Stewart to reflect on his two years as brigade commander and a time for Col. Patrick Michaelis to receive his new command.
"This is a dream come true to be able to lead our Army soldiers," Col. Michaelis said.
But, a constant thought on the minds of soldiers at Friday morning's ceremony was the lives of the four Marines taken by a gunman in Chattanooga on Thursday.
"On behalf of the entire team, our hearts go out to the families of the fallen Marines in the wake of yesterday's tragic incident," Recruiting General Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow said.
As the investigation continues into why anyone would take the lives of those who freely risk it for their country, Col. Michaelis said that outcome could develop the future for military recruitment.
"I think the lessons learned from this incident, and what comes from the investigation, will form whether we do things differently than we do them right now," Col. Michaelis explained.
Regardless of motive, members of the military understand protecting their country means protecting all of its citizens, no matter what.
"In order for us to do what we do, to get to do what we do in America, we've got to be there in their communities," Col. Michaelis explained. "So we spend a lot of time training, thinking about these types of events, but making sure that we have open access to everyone."
More than 2,000 civilians and soldiers are assigned to the 2nd Recruiting Brigade. They are responsible for recruiting operations for the Active Army and Army Reserves in eight southeastern states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.