Change of Command Ceremony Held at Fort McHenry Composite Squadron PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 21:13

09/20/2011–Catonsville, MD – The Fort McHenry Composite Squadron held a formal change of command ceremony at the National Guard Armory in Catonsville, MD, conducted by Group 2 commander Lieutenant Colonel Bill Parris. After three years under the command of Captain Don Ells, the command of the unit was transferred to Major Christopher Hiles.



Lt. Col. Parris began by recognizing the exemplary service of Capt. Ells:

“It is my extreme pleasure tonight to recognize a beyond-outstanding squadron commander, and his contributions to each of your careers. Capt. Ells during his command of this squadron has served with remarkable distinction, and extraordinary distinction.  We at group command saw this squadron turn in a remarkable and rapid fashion. It is those qualities of command that I am honored to recognize tonight.“

Capt. Ells was also awarded a Commander’s Commendation from the Maryland Wing commander, Col. John Knowles.  “This award is not easy to earn, but it is given in deep gratitude for the service of Capt. Ells to this squadron, to this group, to this wing and to Civil Air Patrol”, added Lt. Col. Parris.

The formal portion of the evening began with Lt. Col. Parris giving a description of the ceremony:

“One of the oldest ceremonies in the American military is the change of command ceremony. Its purpose is to provide a physical demonstration of the power of command, the responsibility of command, and to formalize its change. It is a ceremony time-honored to recognize the change of command and the change of leadership.”

The orders were read by Cadet Airman Kylee Gabler, and Cadet Technical Sergeant Payton Erlemeier was the guidon bearer. The guidon was passed from Capt. Ells to Maj. Hiles. Both Capt. Ells and Maj. Hiles were given an opportunity to address the unit.

“I appreciate you all for supporting me in the decisions I have made and being outstanding volunteers to your community, to Maryland, and to the nation. I really do appreciate it.  Without your support, this unit would not be the shining star that it is in the Maryland Wing”, said Capt. Ells.

Maj. Hiles then addressed the squadron, saying, “This squadron was my first home as a senior member, my second home in Civil Air Patrol…. A lot of commanders will come in and tell you that they are not going to wipe everything out and start afresh, and they do that very thing.  I promise you – that’s not going to happen.  I want to continue to build on what Capt. Ells has done over the past three years.”

Maj. Hiles has been a member of Civil Air Patrol since 1995, when he was a cadet in the St. Mary’s Composite Squadron. As a senior, Maj. Hiles was a member of the Ft. McHenry Composite squadron until 2010. After having served as the Health Services Officer of the Maryland Wing, Maj. Hiles returns to his former squadron to take command as the unit’s sixth commander. Maj. Hiles has background in nursing, and a Master’s degree in Integrated Homeland Security Management.

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 61,000 members nationwide. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 113 lives in fiscal year 2010. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the more than 26,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for nearly 70 years. It is a major partner of Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. For more information on Civil Air Patrol, visit or

More than 1,500 members of CAP serve in Maryland. Last fiscal year wing members flew 42 search and rescue missions and were credited with 31 finds. For more information, visit

Last Updated on Monday, 31 March 2014 20:20
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