66th Aviation Brigade Change of Command

Story by SSG Jeff Clayton - Photos by SPC Charles Ames

     We deeply regret and morn the loss of Brigadier General Errol Van Eaton who was killed when his helicopter crashed during a United Nations sponsored relief mission in Haiti in March of 1999.  BG Van Eaton was flying in his civilian capacity as command pilot for an Oregon based air charter service.  He is survived by his wife and two sons.  This article is being left in our archives as tribute to this outstanding Citizen Soldier.

The traditional passing of the colors from commander to commander

     This September saw a change of command for the  66th Aviation Brigade. Headquartered at Fort Lewis, WA, and commanded by a Brigadier General, the 66th Aviation Brigade is one of the four major subordinate commands of the Washington Army National Guard. Its commander is responsible for units not only in Washington, but in 14 other states as well - these include Arizona, California, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Utah and Vermont.

     During a ceremony in early September of 1998, command was handed from Brigadier General Errol H. Van Eaton, Commander from 7 June 1993 until 12 September 1998, to Brigadier General Daniel P. Coffey. BG Coffey was promoted to Brigadier General that same day.

     BG Van Eaton began his military career over thirty years ago as an Army Aviator. BG Van Eaton ended his service to the Washington Army National Guard with the end of this command.

[More on Passing The Colors]

BG Van Eaton BG Collins LG Crocker.jpg (33271 bytes)

BG Van Eaton, BG Collins and LTG Crocker

A Farewell From BG & Mrs. Van Eaton

     Commanding the 66th Aviation Brigade on behalf of MG Barlow and serving as the I Corps Aviation Officer on behalf of Lieutenant Generals Cavezza, Marsh and Crocker has been the absolute highlight of my military career.

     My Wife and I deeply appreciate having had the opportunity to serve with the outstanding officers, noncommissioned officers and soldiers of the 66th Aviation Brigade, both within the state of Washington and the some 3800 wartrace soldiers, the National Guard, I Corps, Sixth and Fifth Armies, the US Army Reserve, and many units from our sister services representing the US Air Force, US Navy, US Marines, the US Coast Guard and their respective Reserve Components.

     We want to thank all who have participated in and attended this ceremony and for making this a very special day for the Van Eaton family.

BG Coffey being promoted to his new rank

MG Barlow, the Adjutant General, promotes
BG Coffee to his new rank

BG Coffey’s Welcome Comments

     Soldiers, NCOs and Officers of 66th Aviation Brigade, assuming command of this outfit is the highlight of my military career. I pledge to you to continue to sustain the direction and momentum established by BG Van Eaton and the previous commanders.

     Commanding this organization is a privilege, it is an honor to continue to work with you, and I look forward to our continuing to accomplish great things together.




Participating Units

  • HHC, 66th Aviation Brigade (Corps) (WAARNG)
  • 1-168th Aviation Battalion (Theater Army) (WAARNG)
  • HQ, 211th Aviation Group (Attack) (UTARNG)
  • 1-151st Aviation Battalion (Attack) (SCARNG)
  • 1-183rd Aviation Battalion (Attack) (IDARNG)
  • 1-285th Aviation Battalion (Attack) (AZARNG)
  • HQ, 185th Aviation Group (MSARNG)
  • 1-103rd Aviation Battalion (ATS) (VTARNG)
  • 1-108th Aviation Battalion (Assault) (KSARNG)
  • 1-112th Aviation Battalion (LUH) (NDARNG)
  • 1-185th Aviation Battalion (GS) (MSARNG)
  • 1-189th Aviation Battalion (CSAB) (MTARNG)
  • 3-140th Aviation Battalion (MHB) (CAARNG)

Special Thanks To

133d Army Band (WAARNG) for providing music for the ceremony

2-146th Field Artillery

(WAARNG) for providing the Salute Battery