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Cottonbalers change command
Col. Thomas Gukeisen (center), commander of 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, entrusts the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiments colors to incoming commander Lt. Col. Brian Ducote (left) in a change-of-command ceremony on Cottrell Field at Fort Stewart on Thursday. - photo by U.S. Army photo/Sgt. Joshua Laidacker

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See dispatches from 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s last days, in September, at Joint Readiness Training Center, Folk Polk, Louisiana, at Search “Joint Readiness Training Center.”

Lt. Col. Scott Shaw, outgoing commander for 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, transferred command to Lt. Col. Brian Ducote during a Thursday ceremony at Cottrell Field on Fort Stewart.

“This regiment is the most decorated in our Army,” Shaw said Jan. 30, 2014, when he assumed command of 3-7 Infantry. “It’s this history you must continue to live into every day.”

Shaw’s commitment to continue the legacy of for 3-7 Infantry, the Cottonbalers, produced results, his commander said.

“The Cottonbalers performed in an exemplary manner no matter what the task at hand,” said Col. Thomas Gukeisen, commander of 2nd IBCT, in his address at the ceremony.

During his time in command, Shaw led the Cottonbalers through many challenges. They helped to shape the future of the Army’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and supported the Florida National Guard’s 53rd Infantry Brigade at its Exportable Combat Training Capability event as the opposing force at Camp Blanding, Florida. He also led his battalion through a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana, where Shaw said he made one of his favorite memories.

“My favorite Cottonbaler moment was in the fictitious town of Batumi at JRTC, when the battalion took an objective that had never been taken before in 20 minutes,” Shaw said after the ceremony. “(Brig.) Gen. (James) Blackburn was walking through the town and saw me and the command sergeant major and said, ‘What are you doing here?’ I said, ‘Sir, the town’s already been taken. We’ve been here for about 15 minutes.’”

Shaw continued, “He said, ‘How did you do that?’ and the sergeant major looked straight at him and said, ‘Sir, these are Cottonbalers.’”
Shaw gave credit to his soldiers during his address, saying Cottonbalers represent “the best in our nation.”

“They are the ones who daily fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run,” Shaw said. “Their efforts and that of their leadership put this battalion where it is today, victorious in every endeavor.”

“You both should leave here with your heads held high, as you left this battalion better than you received it, the hallmark of true professionals,” Gukeisen said to Shaw and his wife, Adrianna.

Ducote comes to Fort Stewart after serving an assignment with U.S. Army Central at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, where he deployed as the aide-de-camp to the commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

“Brian and Gina Ducote join us from Shaw Air Force Base and, having known them for many years, it is with certainty that I can say both are ready to assume the responsibility which is before you,” Gukeisen said. “You will take the Balers to new heights.”

“To the Cottonbalers and our families, your legacy precedes you,” Ducote said. “It is a humbling privilege and honor to serve by your side as we execute our sacred duty in service to our great nation.”

The soldiers of 3-7 Infantry recently completed a field exercise at Fort Bliss, Texas, and are preparing for a rotation at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California. Following that, they are slated to support the brigade’s mission as Regionally Aligned Force for U.S. Army Africa.

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