Soldiers on Fort Bragg on Friday celebrated the career of a highly decorated aviator while welcoming the soldier who will fill his shoes.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 David F. Cooper retired after a 27-year Army career, according to Army Special Operations Command.
The Cincinnati native had served as the chief command warrant officer for Army Special Operations Aviation Command. He was succeeded Friday by Chief Warrant Officer 5 Robert D. Witzler.
The command chief warrant officer acts as the unit's technical expert and is a senior official responsible for advising the unit commander and providing leadership and mentorship for the unit's warrant officers.
The Army is implementing the position in all combat aviation brigades.
Cooper earned the Distinguished Service Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross, and in 2010 was inducted into the Army Aviation Association of America's Hall of Fame.
He was the only currently serving Army aviator to have received the Distinguished Service Cross, officials said.
He received the award in 2008 in recognition of his actions in Iraq in November 2006, when he piloted his AH-6 helicopter over special operations forces at the site of a downed helicopter, combating six enemy gun trucks.
Cooper has deployed more than 23 times, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and flying 761 of his 4,407 career flight hours in combat.
He had been in his position since Army Special Operations Aviation Command was activated in March 2011.
Witzler, a native of Perrysburg, Ohio, began his Army career in 1982 and most recently served as command chief warrant officer of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment at Fort Campbell, Ky.
He has deployed to Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan.