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NEWS | May 9, 2018

Army Reserve Soldier takes command of Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course at Fort Benning

By Maj. Michelle Lunato 98th Training Division (IET)

U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Andrew V. Burns, 98th Training Division (Initial Entry Training), has accomplished something no other Army Reserve Soldier has done in more than 30 years—he took command of an active duty Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course (IBOLC).

The Soldiers of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment welcomed Burns as their incoming commander and bid farewell to their outgoing commander, U.S. Army Capt. Dan R. Apsley, during a Change of Command Ceremony at Fort Benning, April 25. 

After the passing of the colors, the battalion commander, U.S. Army Lt. Col. James Zanella, explained just how much Apsley had done while in command.

“He’s contributed greatly to the success of the battalion accomplishing its mission to prepare its platoon leaders to fight, win and survive on the battlefields of tomorrow.” 

Between restructuring a land navigation training map and essentially running 11 classes worth of platoon situation training lanes (STX) and urban operation lanes, Apsley made the Soldiers better prepared for their time outside of Bravo Company, according Zanella, a native of Memphis, Tennessee. 

“Reaper Company ensured we produced infantry platoon leaders for the total Army,” explained the battalion commander. 

The training Bravo Company puts their IBOLC students through is not easy. However, what we do here makes a difference, said Zanella when he mentioned speaking to some of the recent IBOLC graduates. 

“Their number one training event they say was the most valuable to them in passing Ranger School was the platoon STX and Urban Ops ran by Reaper Company.” 

With that, the battalion commander thanked Apsley, both the incoming and outgoing first sergeants, and welcomed Burns. “So Dan, to you and 1st Sgt. [Gonzalo] Melendez, and now, 1st Sgt. [Michael] Hanson, well done—keep up the pressure. To Andrew, you are just going to have to sustain.” 

Zanella then told the Soldiers of Bravo Company that they were in good hands with Burns as their new commander. “He’s the right man, at the right time. He is no stranger to our program of instruction, and understands personally, the time, care and fitness required of our cadre to succeed in keeping White Phase our premier platoon leader foundation training event.” 

With all the hard work and time spent at Bravo Company, Apsley said it was going to be hard to leave such a great team as he moves on to attend the Intermediate Leaders Course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. 

“If I have to leave, I’m glad to leave the Company in the hands of men whose perspective I trust,” said Apsley, who is a native of Brooks, California. 

With Hanson at his side as first sergeant, Apsley said he has no doubts in turning over control, and that the Company will be taken further forward. 
“This is the first time in my military career that I’m leaving an element that I led in the hands of not one, but two leaders, who I have absolute faith and confidence in. So, thank you for that,” said the outgoing commander with sincerity. 

Burns, who is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana, then took the stage as the new commander for Bravo Company. First and foremost, he thanked his loved ones for all their years of commitment. “Your unwavering support and love is more than I truly deserve.” 

Then Burns turned to Zanella, his new commander, and thanked him for the privilege and opportunity to serve the Soldiers of Bravo Company. “This is not a responsibility I take lightly. And as an Army Reserve officer being selected to command at the Infantry School House, it is a rare occurrence….I am truly honored and humbled to be afforded this chance, and once again represent the U.S. Army Reserve in such an important position.” 

To the Reserve Soldiers of the 98th Training Division (IET), Burns shared his appreciation for those fellow Iroquois Warriors who provided unending support since he joined their team in 2014. 

However, the most heartfelt thanks went out to Burns’ mentor and friend, U.S Army Reserve Lt. Col. Kevin Fracassa, for his years of support. “You above all else, are the person most responsible for me standing on this stage today,” said Burns.

To the Soldiers of Bravo Company, Burns congratulated them for all their hard work and said he admired all that they accomplished together as a team. “To the men and women of Bravo Company, the reputation of this battalion is second to none. This is a testament to the selfless service and the countless hours you spend perfecting your craft in the name of influencing and educating tomorrow’s combat leaders. You are truly the embodiment of the term, quiet professionals.” 

The Army Reserve Soldier then looked out to the crowd and said he looked forward to the opportunity to serve the Soldiers and civilians of Bravo Company as their commander. But before leaving the stage, he had one more person to thank, and that was the outgoing commander, Apsley, who mentioned just how much him and his troops enjoyed equating their tasks to the Game of Thrones. 

With that idea in mind, Burns turned to Apsley to thank him for leaving him such a wonderful team to lead. “My friend, your watch has come to end. Reaper 6—signing in.”