Change of command
Having received the brigade guidon from Brig. Gen. James Rainey, 4th Infantry Division deputy commanding general, Col. Andrew Preston, the new 214th Fires Brigade commander, passes it to Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Aaron, 214th FiB CSM, during the brigade change of command June 28 at Fort Sill's Polo Field.

As Fort Sill bade farewell to Col. Timothy Daugherty, a familiar face took command of the 214th Fires Brigade June 28.

"This is a exciting homecoming for me and my family coming back to Fort Sill," said Col. Andrew Preston. "Fort Sill is one of my all-time favorite assignments."

The new commander returned to the same brigade where he served as battery commander for both brigade headquarters battery and C Battery, 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery, more than 10 years ago.

Preston, a native of Edmond, Okla., said he was delighted to return to where he held command as a young captain.

"I really enjoy Fort Sill and the Oklahoma area. I have a very deep appreciation for the Soldiers, leaders, community and outdoor activities," he said.

Preston, who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1989, said he is excited to be close to his relatives, including his daughter, Jessica, who is attending his alma mater; his mother and brother, whom live in Edmond; as well as his wife's family also in the state. His second daughter, Ashley, will attend high school in the Lawton area.

Preston holds master's degrees from Harvard University and the Command and General Staff College. His military education includes a Senior Service College Fellowship at Texas A&M University, the Army School of Advanced Military Studies, the Command and General Staff Officer's Course, the Field Artillery Officer's Basic and Advanced courses, and the Combined Arms and Services Staff School.

"I am impressed with what I have seen so far in what I consider the best brigade in the Army," said Preston. "I plan to do everything to keep us a viable entity as we go forward."

The new commander had several family members who traveled to Fort Sill for the ceremony. His wife, Gina, received yellow roses, welcoming her and his daughters to the unit.

"I rejoin the 214th Fires Brigade today with the certain understanding that much of what Ilearned as a field artillery officer, I learned in this very brigade, under the mentorship of some incredible officers and noncommissioned officers," he said.

Many leaders from Fort Sill attended the ceremony, including Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, and Brig. Gen. James Rainey, deputy commanding general, 4th Infantry Division, who served as the reviewing officer for the ceremony.

Rainey sang his praises for Daugherty and all his efforts to turn the brigade into what it is today.

"This brigade deployed on the Security Force Assistance Team mission to Afghanistan, where they worked closely with their Afghan partners to ensure they were fully trained and equipped to take the lead in security operations," Rainey said. "Your work there was nothing short of outstanding. You moved the ball forward and set the conditions for future successful operation in Afghanistan."

When asked what his proudest accomplishment was as commander, Daugherty said that having the opportunity to show the leaders within the brigade how counseling one another can make such a positive impact on Soldier's lives no matter what their ranks.

1st Lt. Curtis Cornelius, brigade chemical officer, remembered Daugherty's drive for excellence.

"Along with his eagerness to command the SFAT mission downrange, I believe most of us will remember Colonel Daugherty for his competitiveness," Cornelius said. "He designed many programs that challenged all of us and brought us together as a brigade to include the Leaders Gauntlet and the Leaders Gut Check.

"He also had a challenge if anyone could bench press more than him and beat him in a run then he would buy that person and four of his or her friends dinner. No one was able to win that dinner these past two years," said Cornelius.

The Gauntlet, an event originated by Daugherty, is a semi-annual day of physical and mental challenges for all junior officers in the brigade. It took place April 4 and pushed each participant through various events including an early-morning physical training test immediately followed by a personal trainer-led workout for an hour. Following the workout, the officers ruck marched to where they were met with other competitions, such as weapons assembly followed by going through the confidence course here.

The Leaders Gut Check, also a semi-annual event introduced by Daugherty, focuses on checking the knowledge and physical abilities of junior enlisted Soldiers. This event includes an all-night 12-mile ruck march through many stations where their tactical knowledge and physical abilities were challenged.

"I could go over numerous pages and notes of the 214th Fires Brigade accolades, searching for a hidden jewel that would make the Soldiers know how proud I am of them and how amazing I think they are. I could go through and try to list all the names of the numerous leaders in 214th who gave me a 100-percent effort 100 percent of the time and then somehow show my appreciation of their efforts. I could try to outline the numerous Soldier caring programs such as the gut checks, the gauntlets, the brigade counseling standard, the "we care camps" and the numerous profession of arms seminars and their great successes as a way to show what a terrific unit you are all part of. I could reference the numerous deployments or re-deployments and our aggressive stance on training to try and outline the versatility and real world accomplishments we have had in the 214th Fires Brigade. Then, finally, I would be trying to tie all those comments into showing how proud I am to have been your commander," Daugherty said.

Conceding to the oppressive 100-degree heat, he drew upon the words of a "famous philosopher, Winnie the Pooh" for his final quote: "How lucky I am to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

"I was always told that brigade command would never be as enjoyable as battalion command. Those people were wrong. I loved commanding this brigade and the amazing leaders here are the reason I was able to have such a great time," he said.

Having relinquished command, Daugherty moves on to work as the deputy G-3 (plans and operations) at the Pentagon.

Page last updated Wed July 3rd, 2013 at 14:31