Belmont-based National Guard unit changes command

Sgt. Maj. Kevin Day receives the Michigan National Guard, 63rd Troop Command’s colors from the new commander, Col. Shawn Harris, during an Oct. 15, 2016, ceremony at the Belmont armory where the 63rd is based. Harris grew up in Blakely, Georgia and now resides in Kentwood, Michigan. (Michigan National Guard photo by Maj. Doug Halleaux/Released)

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Story written by Maj. Doug Halleaux

BELMONT, Mich. — The Michigan Army National Guard, 63rd Troop Command, welcomed a new commander Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016.

Col. Shawn Harris accepted command of the brigade-sized element from Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Relinquishing command after more than two years’ service to the unit was Col. Jeffrey Terrill.

Harris most recently completed a tour as chief of staff for the final rotation of Operation Onward Liberty in Liberia, Africa. The approximately 15-month mission included mentoring and advising Liberia’s senior military leadership. The mission holds unique relevance because the Michigan National Guard and Liberia were paired in 2010 under National Guard Bureau-administered State Partnership Program. Harris previously served as the Michigan National Guard’s Director of Information Technology.

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Sgt. Maj. Kevin Day of Howell, Mich., hands the Michigan National Guard, 63rd Troop Command’s colors to outgoing commander Col. Jeffrey Terrill of Northville, Mich., as Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais and incoming 63rd commander, Col. Shawn Harris stand sentry during the 63rd TC change of command ceremony, Oct. 15, 2016, at the Michigan National Guard Armory in Belmont. (Michigan National Guard photo by Maj. Doug Halleaux/Released)

The 63rd Troop Command includes the Michigan National Guard’s infantry and artillery battalions, formations familiar to Harris, whose military education includes both the Infantry Officer Basic Course and Field Artillery Captains Career Course.

Harris was also one of the first Michigan National Guard officers selected to attend the Army War College as a resident.
“I look forward to working with each and every one of you,” said Harris, to the formation of Soldiers from the 63rd on Saturday.

Harris’ familiarity with the command isn’t limited to its mission, however. The unit’s current command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Day, was one of Harris’ first Soldiers in the early days of his career, shortly after commissioning as a second lieutenant.

“It’s a very special treat to once again serve with Command Sgt. Maj. Day. The last time, I was a brand new second lieutenant and he was a specialist in my platoon,” said Harris.

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Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard, presents Col. Jeffrey Terrill with a Meritorious Service Medal in recognition of his service as commander of the 63rd Troop Command. The presentation was included in the change of command ceremony for the 63rd Troop Command, Oct. 15, 2016, in Belmont, Michigan. (Michigan National Guard photo by Maj. Doug Halleaux/Released)

Outgoing commander Col. Jeffrey Terrill oversaw during his tenure the deployment of one of the Command’s battalions, 1st Battalion, 182nd Field Artillery Regiment, to active duty in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, a mission from which the battalion just recently returned.

The majority of Soldiers comprising the 63rd and its subordinate units will train one weekend each month and complete a two-week annual training period each year.

Questions about the 63rd Troop Command or any Michigan National Guard unit, may be directed to the MING public affairs office at 517-481-8141.

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