A battalion commander whose time at Fort Carson was marked by the two most destructive fires in Colorado's history and a lightning strike that injured 12 soldiers bid farewell to the post Jan. 24.
Hundreds gathered to watch Lt. Col. Danielle Ngo, commander of the 52nd Engineer Battalion, hand the reins to Lt. Col. Ralph Radka at the post's Special Events Center.
During a speech punctuated by jokes, Ngo drew attention to the accomplishments of her soldiers during her two years in command.
The battalion's troops cut fire lines in support of Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fire-fighting efforts and assisted with cleanup at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station after flooding left the post closed for several days in September.
Twelve of the battalion's soldiers were injured during an outside training exercise at Fort Carson last summer. All have recovered.
"I guess you could call us the natural disaster battalion," Ngo said. "It has been amazing that we have survived two of the most destructive wildfires in Colorado state history, a brutal flood and a lightning strike that injured 12 of our soldiers.
"The only natural disasters that we haven't taken on are a tsunami and an earthquake. If I am the bad luck here, we only have a few more minutes left and you're in the clear."
Referencing her soldiers' work on the Air Force Academy during the Waldo Canon fire, she jokingly added, "I have been told a couple of times that we should have let the Air Force Academy football stadium burn down, but I'm not sure even that would have helped our Army football team."
Over the past two years, the battalion sent troops to Bahrain, Afghanistan and Kuwait, and will soon deploy soldiers to Guam, she said.
Col. Heath Roscoe, commander of the Fort Hood's 36th Engineer Brigade, which includes the Carson battalion, told the crowd that Ngo has gone the extra mile.
"She has always advocated for families," he said.
The new commander, Radka, has proven himself in Iraq and is the right man for the job, Roscoe said.
"Your incoming commander is a proven combat leader and a talented engineer," he said.
Radka's previous assignments include senior engineer adviser to the Iraqi federal police and deputy commander of the 1st Armored Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Ngo's next assignment is in Brussels where she will serve as the military assistant to the chairman of the NATO Military Committee.