FORT IRWIN• The Army band marched in perfect cadence as they played at the change of command ceremony at Fort Irwin on Thursday afternoon.

About 500 civilians and soldiers showed their support while the winds blew heavily on the parade field for the traditional military event.

Gen. David Rodriguez, Commanding General of U.S. Army Forces Command, led the passing of colors symbolizing the transfer of leadership at the National Training Center and Fort Irwin. Incoming Brig. Gen. Theodore Martin stood next to Rodriguez and outgoing Brig. Gen. Terry Ferrell in a circle at the center of the helipad. They marched side by side after the honors were passed.

"Installing new command signals an opportunity for growth and continued positive change," Rodriguez said.

A change of command takes place at the installation every two years, according to Community Relations Officer Renita Wickes.

"This truly is a national treasure, this truly is special. Not just because of the mission we lead but because of the people that live and work within this community," Ferrell said in his farewell remarks about the NTC.

Ferrell moves on to his next assignment in the Horn of Africa as Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force. He commanded the NTC and Fort Irwin since Feb. 2011.

The incoming commander, Martin, is no stranger to the base as he was commander of the Operations Group at Fort Irwin in 2009, according to Ferrell. Ferrell welcomed both Martin and his wife Stephanie Martin, to the Fort Irwin family.

Cannons fired and the playing of honors took place before the three commanders shared remarks. Red roses were given to Mrs. Ferrell as a sign of appreciation and yellow roses were presented to Mrs. Martin as a welcome to the base.

"This is Lead Six entering the net. Lead, train, win," Martin said at the end of his remarks.

A long line of people stood to shake hands and take photos with Ferrell and his wife.

"I'm going to miss Mrs. Ferrell and Brig. Gen. Ferrell because they're just so passionate about soldiers and the installation," Wickes said.

Contact Brooke Self at (760) 256-4123 or