428th FA Brigade welcomes new commander
June 5, 2014
FORT SILL, Okla. -- On a post so steeped in historical significance, it seemed the tendrils of time were overlapping and reconnecting in many new links May 29.
Fort Sill bade farewell to one linked colonel as another arrived with links in place. This happened during a change of command ceremony for the 428th Field Artillery Brigade at Polo Field.
Receiving the unit colors during the ceremony, Col. John Delaney succeeded Col. Gene Meredith, the outgoing commander.
"This is a great day, a day of thanks to the chain of command for having the faith that we are up to the task of leading this great brigade," said Delaney.
The new Cornerstone Brigade commander extended his appreciation to his family and friends for their support during his career, and to those who helped shape and refine him into the leader he is today. He also thanked Meredith for "leaving such a superb organization" for him to command.
"To the officers, NCOs, civilians, Soldiers and students, it is an honor and privilege to command this great brigade," he said. "I'm looking forward to the many exciting and rewarding missions that lay ahead."
Brig. Gen. Christopher Bentley, FA School commandant and chief of FA, officiated the ceremony and related during his remarks that this was the third time he met up with the Delaney family.
The first happened when he was a captain and was stationed with Capt. Matt Delaney, John's brother, in Hawaii. Then, starting in 2008 the Bentleys and the John Delaney family were stationed together and shared many off-duty special occasions together.
"There's no finer officer and leader that I have the pleasure and honor of welcoming than John Delaney," said Bentley. "The brigade's future looks bright, and I look forward to serving together here at the Fires Center of Excellence."
Like his close association with the Delaney family, Bentley shared how he previously crossed paths with Meredith, too. In 1997, then Major Bentley, newly assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, met Captain Meredith who acquainted him with how things worked in the division.
"Since that day, we've been friends, battle buddies and jump buddies," said Bentley, "knowing you has meant the world to me professionally and personally."
The general mentioned the roughly 9,000 Soldiers and leaders Meredith led, trained and educated future leaders raising the standard for discipline and excellence.
"Thanks to your leadership, the Army and Marine Corps received the best trained, led and educated Marines and Soldiers this country required," he said. "You are leaving an organization that will set a standard for years to come, and John Delaney will take it to new heights."
Meredith wrapped up a nearly four-year tour at Fort Sill as he thanked Lt. Gen. David Halverson who selected him to command the brigade then supported and guided him along the way. He then acknowledged Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, he's had the honor of commanding the brigade under for two years. Meredith said McDonald and his wife, Connie, are two of the most selfless people he knows.
He said he will always remember the NCOs and officers he got to lead at Fort Sill and the outstanding work they did turning out great officers and Advanced Individual Training Soldiers.
Meredith also reached back to those Greatest Generation Soldiers who served long ago through his association with the WWII Airborne Demonstration Team jump school at Frederick, Okla.
During his command, Meredith made connections with the jump school commander, which led to 428th FA volunteers parachuting from the vintage aircraft.
"They are some very special people, and that unit is the only place I know of in this country, and probably one of only two in the world that does this type of school. I will truly miss those guys," he said.
Meredith gave his praise to Delaney and said the Army "chose wisely" in making him the next 428th commander.
"I know you will take the brigade to record heights in the future, congratulations," he said.
The departing colonel then spoke of a special reason he had for thanking Bentley for his next assignment to South Korea.
"You've made Sam the happiest spouse in the Army," said Meredith, whose wife, Sam-Hyang Hong is a native of Chun-Chon, South Korea.
His words for his wife spoke of their 23 years together and the teamwork they shared in managing and living an Army career.
"Being the good Army wife, she is already in Korea with quarters signed, stocked and wired for communications," he said. "She's accepted the main body, our dogs, and is waiting the trail party, me, to arrive."