160th SOAR(A) bids farewells to 4th battalion commander


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice

FORT LEWIS, Wash. (USASOC News Service, July 22, 2008) – The Soldiers of 4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), said farewell to the commander who became a part of regiment history when he stood up the unit and led its personnel through the battalion’s first combat deployment.

In a July 17 ceremony at Fort Lewis, Wash., Lt. Col. Michael J. Hertzendorf assumed command of the battalion from Lt. Col. James C. Dugan. This marked the first change of command in the unit’s history.

“Jim has taken this battalion from a concept – or a directive - to where they are today,” said Col. Clayton M. Hutmacher, commander, 160th SOAR. “Jim has built this organization from scratch, overseeing virtually every aspect of the training, organizing and equipping of this unit.”

Four years ago, Dugan returned to the 160th with a mission to build what became a fourth special operations aviation battalion from scratch. He led the unit through growth in personnel and equipment and then oversaw a 2,000-mile move from Fort Campbell, Ky., to Fort Lewis, Wash. The unit achieved provisional and then permanent status under Dugan’s leadership. He then led his Soldiers through a rigorous train-up period and now two successful combat deployments.

“Jim and Lisa (Dugan), you have given your all to 4th Battalion and you have every reason to be proud of your accomplishments,” said Hutmacher. “The truth is this battalion would not be where it is today if it were not for both of you.”

Dugan said that he has been blessed beyond measure as commander of this unit.

“Today I can honestly say that I am overwhelmed by a single emotion and that’s gratitude,” he said. “This has been an incredible feat of progress, and it has been very humbling to watch it all happen. Today all I’d like to say is thank you to everyone who made it happen.”

A second ceremony later that day honored more than 21 years of distinguished Army service as Dugan was retired from active duty.

Hutmacher also welcomed the Hertzendorf family back to the unit.

“You’ve been training your whole life for this job,” he said. “You’re the right command team to take the intrepid Soldiers of 4th Battalion to the next level. Many challenges lie ahead but you are both more than qualified to deal with them.”

“The sun may not be shining outside today but I can tell you it is shining inside this hangar,” Hertzendorf told his formation and the audience. “Soldiers of 160th, you look great, your accomplished tasks speak for (themselves) and I’m honored to be within your ranks as we continue to serve with the memory and pride of those who come before us.”

Hertzendorf most recently served as the joint air officer for U.S. Special Operations Command. He brings 19 years of Army service, including multiple assignments within the 160th.


Lt. Col. Michael J. Hertzendorf accepts the 4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), colors from Col. Clayton M. Hutmacher, commander, 160th SOAR, during the unit change of command ceremony July 11, 2008, at Fort Lewis, Wash. (Photo by Kimberly T. Laudano, 160th Public Affairs.)