Col. Luis A. Ortiz assumed command of the Pine Bluff Arsenal during a Change of Command ceremony on July 19.

Guests assembled at the Arkansas National Guard Reserve Center at 9 a.m. to witness Col. Kelso C. Horne III pass the torch to Ortiz after serving a two-year term as commander of the arsenal.

“The last two years have been kind of a continued exposure to unsettling goodness,” Horne said, reminiscing on his time as commander and revealing that his first experience with unsettling goodness was in Arkansas. “What I mean is if you watch Michael Phelps swim, you’ve seen a lot of good swimmers, before him and after him in the pool ... but he is different.”

Family members of Horne were presented with tokens of appreciation during the ceremony, including: a bouquet of red roses in full bloom for his wife that symbolized the arsenal’s love and respect for the loyalty shown to the organization; single red roses for the couple’s two daughters, and a Pine Bluff Arsenal token for their son.

The arsenal also gifted Ortiz’s family with items to welcome them into the organization. A bouquet of yellow rosebuds was presented to his wife symbolizing the warm relationship that will grow as the new commander’s time passes. Ortiz’s daughter, granddaughters and daughter-in-law were given single white roses, along with other gifts for his son and grandsons just before he officially assumed command of the arsenal.

Hailing from Mexico City, Mexico, Ortiz was enlisted in the Army in 1987 as a chemical operations specialist. Throughout his stint in the Army, he served as Battalion Chemical Officer, Platoon Leader and Executive Officer, commander of the Houston South Recruiting Company in Friendswood, Texas, and numerous other positions.

Following his command, Ortiz was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, to be the Chemical Corps Branch Chief in Human Resources Command. He attended the Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and was assigned to Fort Bragg as the XVIII ABN Corps Protection and CBRNE Chief.

“This transition, for me, has been one of the greatest transitions I’ve ever had,” Ortiz said. “I spent a month here. You’ve all seen me, I’ve seen the operations, and I’m very happy. This was perfect.”

Ortiz joked that he was slightly nervous coming into his position but, all-in-all, was honored to be given the title of commander.

“The reality is it’s a good honor,” Ortiz said. “The Army has given me the opportunity, and actually it’s a humbling opportunity to command this great organization. It’s done a lot of good. It’s been here for a long time. The community has embraced me the last month and I am very humble to come into this place and be named the commander.”