First, a soldier presented a bouquet of red roses to Amy Mingus, the wife of the outgoing commander of Fort Carson’s 4th Brigade Combat Team.
Then, another soldier offered yellow flowers to Karen Pearl, the wife of the brigade’s incoming commander.
The final red bouquet went to the widow of a man whose absence loomed heavy on Thursday.
Following Army tradition, Fort Carson’s leaders welcomed a new commander to the brigade and bid farewell to its former leader — a typical step after an overseas deployment.
Col. Brian Pearl, who once commanded the brigade’s 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, assumed the brigade’s top post on Thursday. He took over for Col. James Mingus, who guided the brigade through its 2012 deployment to eastern Afghanistan.
It was a busy tour.
Soldiers cleared 227 bombs laid by insurgents and oversaw the completion of 22 schools, 25 road projects and 13 medical centers, said Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the post’s commander.
But there were echoes during the ceremony of the cost of that deployment.
Ten troops assigned to the brigade died in Afghanistan.
In one poignant moment, one of the men tasked with protecting the brigade’s leaders in Afghanistan handed a bouquet of roses to Pam Griffin, widow of Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Griffin.
Griffin, the brigade’s top enlisted soldier, died in a suicide bomber attack on Aug. 8 in Kunar province, Afghanistan. Two Fort Carson officers also died in the attack.
“We love you, we always will,” Anderson told Pam during the ceremony.