It’s barely been a year since I took the guidon. I’m sitting here now, no longer Viper 6. It feels strange because I half expect the phone to chime with one of my LTs asking me something. It was a great year. Very frustrating but also very rewarding. There will be many more blogs about my time in command, now that I’m no longer in the hot seat but for today, I’ll just post my speech to my company. I’m proud that I didn’t cry during my speech and even got a few laughs. Mostly, I’m proud as hell of having been Viper 6. They are truly a great company and while there are many things I could have done differently, I can’t hang onto what I should have done. I can only look back on what I did do and hope that, as I said in my speech, that I made a difference.

Names have been redacted to protect the guilty:)

Distinquished guests, thank you for joining us here today. I promised a few of you that this would be a quick speech and it will be because honestly, who’s really listening? This is just about the only thing between you and free chow, right? So, hopefully without embarrassing myself, here goes.

Ma’am it was just a year ago that I stood here thanking you for the opportunity to command. I promised I would not let you down and while I know I frustrated the hell out of you, I hope I never disappointed you. I have to thank my daughters most of all because they didn’t realize it but they let you borrow me for this tour. To my babysitter, you have been a blessing in my life and in my daughter’s lives. You have been more than a babysitter, you have become a friend. I joked that the cats raised my kids this year, but in reality, you were all that stood between my children and Lord of the Flies. Thank you for giving my girls a summer they’ll not soon forget. I’d thank my husband but he’s in Iraq right now so I’ll thank him properly when he gets home.

First Sergeant, when you accepted the guidon last year from me, neither one of us knew that you’d accepted it for good but I am so grateful it was. I’ve said it before, but I think it’s true: you’ve taken more butt chewings for me than probably any First Sergeant in the history of the Signal Corps and still, you always had my back. Thank you for always giving me honest counsel, for making me play well with others when I didn’t want to, for not letting my good idea fairies get out of control and mostly, for taking care of our Soldiers. You are among the best the NCO Corps has to offer and I am honored to have served with you.

I can’t name every soldier who impacted my life this year but I’d be remiss without mentioning a few. My supply team. You processed more AARs, turned in more equipment and read off more serial numbers than anyone in recent history. Thank you for never quitting, for always accomplishing the mission. All the troopers in the company operations. Thank you for not calling the IG on me when I started cussing and thanks for taping up the Viper Cuss pot when I broke it. I think we can retire it now. I don’t think the new commander swears like I do. But I’m working on that. I’ve quit cussing. Again. No really. My motorsergeant and everyone in the motorpool. Last year at this time, we were in dire straights on our maintenance but since you came on board, you managed to turn the course and get us going in the right direction. Your ability to find damn near any part on post – and do it legally – continues to impress me. Thank you for working long hours and late nights and never giving up.

To my lieutenants past and present. No, I am not thanking Apple but I am glad all of you had unlimited texting, even when you texted me at three in the morning, just to let me know you’d all gotten home safely. Thank you for never quitting, even when I threatened you with the choice between working all night on an OPORD versus chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. It may not have been the dinner of champions, but you got the order written. I demanded a lot from you but each and every one of you dug in and figured it out. I am proud of what you accomplished even if I only turned one of you onto books. Remember that you are stronger together than you are separately and never let the comms go down. No matter what, remember that our mission is to make sure that 18 year old kid walking the streets can call for fire or call for MEDEVAC.

Charlie Company, you look amazing. I am proud to have served as your commander. We worked a lot of late nights and long hours but no one had to wear the Flavor Flav laptop necklace. You deployed in support of 504th BFSB in North Fort Hood, 52nd Engineers and 62nd CSSB in Guernsey WY and 21st CAV MRX in Brownwood. You prepared to deploy in support of Hurricane Irene, 13th ESC’s CTE and KMI. You were one of the first units in recent Army history to engineer a TROPO link and pass WIN-T data over that link. Despite having to evacuate the site from the forest fires, there was never a doubt in my mind that you could accomplish that mission and as usual, you never failed.

Charlie Company, thank you for never saying We Can’t. Thank you for always giving it a hundred and ten percent and remembering that what we do isn’t about us, it’s about that 18 year old kid on patrol. I never did manage to make you laugh at my safety briefings even if you were quietly horrified at the very first one. Remember to continue to have each other’s back.

To the new commander, Charlie Company the best damn group of soldiers I’ve served with in 16 years. Give them a task and purpose and they will never fail. I will never forget my time as Viper Six. It has been the most rewarding position I have ever held. I hope I made a difference in some small way.

Viper Six, Out.