CAMP EGGERS, Afghanistan — The busiest unit of 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, has a new leader who will guide it through the rest of its Operation Enduring Freedom mission.
First Lt. John Salas assumes command of Charlie Company after an Aug. 26 change of command. Salas succeeds Maj. Ricky Flores, who served as Charlie Company commander for almost four years. Flores moves forward as battalion executive officer, replacing Maj. Joseph I. Cruz, who will serve as rear detachment commander starting this month.
Salas will oversee close to 80 soldiers who have been busy since arriving in Afghanistan in April. The soldiers continue driving forward as guardian angels, security forces and personnel security for both civilian and military officials supporting the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A) mission.
“Lt. Salas is a very capable and intelligent officer. He’s been with the battalion for over 10 years,” said Lt. Col. Michael Tougher, commander, Task Force Guam. “I have no doubt that he will do an exceptional job as commander of Charlie Company. He’s committed to the success of this organization.”
[Maj. Ricky Flores, left, former commander of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, receives a Meritorious Service Medal from Lt. Col. Michael Tougher, commander of Task Force Guam, during an Aug. 26 change of command ceremony at Camp Eggers, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza/Released)]
Salas enlisted into the Guam Guard April 2003. In 2005, he deployed to the Horn of Africa to support OEF. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant through the Officer Candidate School in 2007. Salas served the battalion as assistant operations officer up to this point during the battalion’s current OEF mission.
“Although a commander is expected to lead and command his company, he cannot successfully run his unit without help from his officers, noncommissioned officers and soldiers,” Salas told his troops. “I thank God and our battalion leadership for giving me the opportunity to lead this company. I know I have big shoes to fill. Maj. Flores has done an exemplary job.”
Flores, a retired Guam Police Department officer, has led Charlie Company to more than 2,000 missions since April. His hard-working crew has amassed more than 17,000 miles driving throughout Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. Flores had hoped to “finish what I have started” but gladly complies with giving “others the opportunity to experience deployment command as well.”
“I have always believed that true leadership is not demanded; it’s earned by the way you train, mentor, respect and treat soldiers,” Flores said. “My mission was to bring out the best in all my Soldiers. I truly believe I have done that.”
“Major Flores, an exceptional officer,” Tougher added. “I’ve spent quite some time with him in the battalion. He’s one of those guys who is successful at whatever he does. He’s successful because he puts his mind into it. He’s focuses on it. He shows commitment and effort. He continuously wants to be better.”
Tougher awarded Flores with the Meritorious Service Medal.