Roche takes command of 29th ID Headquarters Battalion

Lt. Col. John R. Roche assumes command of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 29th Infantry Division from Lt. Col. Edward W. Lewis during a change of command ceremony April 7, 2019, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Maj. Gen. John M. Epperly, commanding general of the 29th Infantry Division, presided over the traditional exchanging of the unit colors that represented the change of command from Lewis to Roche. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Marc Heaton)

FORT BELVOIR, Virginia – Lt. Col. John R. Roche assumed command of the Fort Belvoir-based Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 29th Infantry Division from Lt. Col. Edward W. Lewis during a change of command ceremony April 7, 2019, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Maj. Gen. John M. Epperly, commanding general of the 29th, presided over the traditional exchanging of the unit colors that represented the change of command from Lewis to Roche.

Following the exchanging of the colors, Epperly congratulated Lewis on completion of a command marked with numerous successes.

“Lt. Col. Lewis’ accomplishments over the last two years have been many,” Epperly said. “And they have been representative of the operational tempo the division has gone through immediately following the Spartan Shield deployment and now as we ramp up for another one in 2021.”

“This has been a very busy officer, and I am certainly going to miss having him around,” Epperly added.

Lewis, who will be moving to a new assignment as the collective training branch chief at National Guard Bureau, was presented with the Meritorious Service Medal and took a moment to thank his family and the Soldiers of the battalion.

“I don’t think I can muster the words to properly thank you for all of the support, constructive criticism, sage advice, patience and unconditional love throughout this journey,” Lewis said to his wife, Samantha.

“Headquarters Battalion, I can say without a doubt, you are one of the most talented, adaptive, and tenacious teams I’ve ever been a part of. It was truly an honor to have led you,” Lewis added.

During his remarks, Epperly welcomed the incoming battalion commander.

“Lt. Col. Roche is no stranger to the 29th. He has been on two combat deployments with the division over the last several years. He will inherit a very high operational tempo,” Epperly said. “The division right now is probably busier than I have ever seen it. I’m very happy to have the leadership of Lt. Col. Roche during this tumultuous time.”

Roche assumed command after serving as the division’s chief of protection. He was commissioned into the Regular Army in the Military Police Corps upon graduating from the Virginia Military Institute in 2003.

Lt. Col. Edward W. Lewis is presented the Meritorious Service Medal by Maj. Gen. John M. Epperly, commanding general of the 29th Infantry Division, during a change of command ceremony for Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 29th Infantry Division April 7, 2019, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Marc Heaton)