CAMP GRUBER — With thunderous cracks of artillery fire and the music of a military band, the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (the Thunderbirds) honored one commander while welcoming another in a ceremony at Camp Gruber Training Center.
The Thunderbirds gathered Saturday at Camp Gruber to celebrate outgoing brigade commander Col. Christopher Chomosh, of Verdigris, and welcomed Lt. Col. Colby Wyatt, of Cherokee. Soldiers from each of the brigade’s six battalions were present and in formation.
Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, adjutant general for Oklahoma, praised Chomosh’s leadership and said he stands as the epitome of the citizen-soldier.
“You have served your community as a Tulsa police officer. You’ve served the Guard. You are the guy at the time to lead this brigade,” Thompson said. “The only time I’ve heard you push back was when you were arguing for one of your soldiers, and that’s the way you’ve always been.”
Chomosh, who has commanded the 3,000 soldier-strong brigade since February 2018, is moving to the Oklahoma National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters in Oklahoma City. He told the troops he is going to continue to do everything he can to help the brigade.
“Know I’ll be reminding the people at [Joint Force Headquarters] about the great work being done at the [Infantry Brigade Combat Team] right down to the company and platoon level,” Chomosh said. “The [Infantry Brigade Combat Team] is the largest and most important organization in this state. I want to remind them that every decision they make has second- and third-order effects that will help or hurt the people where the rubber meets the road.”
Chomosh commissioned in 1990 upon graduation from the Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama. He twice served as a company commander for 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, in addition to other roles within the battalion and IBCT, to include the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment. He was the 1st Squadron, 180th Cavalry Regiment commander in Kuwait and Iraq during Operation New Dawn.
Chomosh also deployed numerous times in support of domestic operations that included flood and tornado responses, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He has received numerous awards, including a Bronze Star Medal with “V” (Valor) device and Meritorious Service Medals. In Chomosh’s civilian job, he serves as a police officer with more than 25 years as a member of the Tulsa Police Department.
During the ceremony, the Brigade’s colors passed from Chomosh to Thompson and then on to Wyatt as a symbol of the passing of command.
Thompson said the Guard could not have chosen a better leader for the 45th than Wyatt, adding that he is one of the most dedicated, hard-charging and devoted soldiers he has ever met.
Wyatt enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard in 1990 as a radio telephone operator in the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment. As an enlisted soldier, he also served as a rifleman, grenadier and fire team leader. He received his commission through the Oklahoma National Guard’s Officer Candidate School and attended Infantry Officer Basic Course in 1996.
Wyatt’s first command was Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment. During that time, his company deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also served as the commander of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment and as the battalion training officer, the 45th IBCT plans chief, operations officer for the 179th, brigade civil affairs officer and commander of the 179th.
His awards include four Bronze Star Medals, a Purple Heart, three Meritorious Service Medals, two Army Commendation Medals and five Army Achievement Medals. He has also earned the Combat Infantry Badge, Ranger Tab, Pathfinder Badge, Air Assault Badge and the Recruiting Basic Badge.
“Soldiers of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, I’m honored to be standing here today,” Wyatt said. “Major General Thompson, thank you for giving me the opportunity and bestowing the responsibilities of this outstanding unit…I look forward to the months ahead and continued support for the soldiers of this great brigade. Always Forward!”