Air Defense Artillery Leader returns to Fort Sill
July 12, 2012
Fort Sill and the Lawton community welcomed back a colonel who has contributed significantly to one branch of the Fires Center of Excellence.
Col. Donald Fryc returned July 9 and was honored as the Air Defense Artillery School commandant and chief of ADA during a reveille ceremony in front of McNair Hall.
The event featured many of the units common to Fort Sill ceremonies with the color guard, flag detail and cannon crew provided by Soldiers from the 434th Field Artillery and the 75th Fires brigades and the FA Half Section, and Marines from the Marine Corps Artillery Detachment. Absent was the "Pride of Fort Sill," the 77th Army Band with its members off for leave or other matters. Instead, the 380th Army Reserve Band from Richmond, Va., ably filled in providing all the musical support for such a ceremony.
Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, presided over the ceremony calling it a privilege to welcome a gifted Fires leader back to Fort Sill.
"Don's recent journey has come full circle to once again land him here at Fort Sill," said McDonald. "We're thrilled to have him as the air defense artillery's newest commandant and chief."
The general said Fryc's return happened almost three years to the day that ADA returned to Fort Sill after a 41-year absence.
"Field artillerymen and air defense artillerymen stood proud reunited under the common banner of the Fires Center of Excellence," he said. "Right in the midst of it was Colonel Don Fryc who arrived as the first commander of the 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade here."
McDonald said Fryc nearly divided his command time between Fort Bliss, Texas, and here, the last half spent molding the brigade into a fully functional schoolhouse at Fort Sill.
"He was present for most of the changes that took place in 2009 when the Lawton-Fort Sill area saw record economic growth due in large part by the construction and other projects brought about by the BRAC process," said the general.
Moving the unit proved a huge logistics undertaking as hundreds of Soldiers and millions of dollars of equipment arrived to establish a new home in Southwest Oklahoma. McDonald likened the task to a full-scale deployment; the only difference being a deploying unit relieves an existing unit already in place.
"Here, there were no barracks to fall in on, no classrooms to take over. Don had to oversee their construction and initiate the first class at Fort Sill while simultaneously closing down the same functions at Fort Bliss," said McDonald. "He performed all these tasks brilliantly and made the transition up here seamless; in just 13 months after arriving here with his brigade, he left behind a world-class training brigade complete with modern equipment, classrooms and facilities that the schoolhouse now has."
As often happens in the Army, one success leads to another. McDonald said Fryc's efforts were noticed at higher levels resulting in his selection as the 32nd Air and Missile Defense Command deputy commander and a return back to Fort Bliss.
"Don oversaw the theater air defense and missile assets, planning, integration, coordination and execution of those functions for 22 months as deputy. Now, we're going to call on him again to take on a big job, and I'm fully confident he's the right man for the task," said McDonald.
Fryc will further develop the vision as the ADA commandant and chief to be the world's most versatile Fires force with agile and adaptive Soldiers and leaders, and integrated and inter-operable systems capable of delivering accurate and responsive Fires in any environment from mud to space at any time, said McDonald.
"Colonel Fryc returns to us ready to write a new chapter in the ADA history, and I'm sure it will be an exciting one," said McDonald. "Don, you're a welcome edition to our Fires team anytime."
Fryc's enthusiasm and energy were apparent even before he stepped to the podium as he released an emphatic "Hooah!" He called his selection as the new ADA School commandant a blessing and something that left him speechless for most of the morning.
"This is all about thankfulness and encouragement. to Major General McDonald and Command Sergeant Major Dwight Morrisey, (FCoE and Fort Sill CSM), what a blessing it is to be back part of Team Sill," said Fryc. "I appreciate the warm welcome as we rejoin this great community."
The colonel especially thanked 1st Lt. Ralph Chester of the 82nd Airborne Division as a leader instrumental in encouraging Fryc, then a young air defense Soldier, to apply for a commission.
"Here I am today, thankful for his inspiration, confidence and leadership," he said.
Fryc also thanked his parents and family, calling it a great Army family. He then turned his attention to his wife, Michelle, whom he called the best wife.
"Thanks for being here, I'm looking forward to another great tour of duty with you," he said.
The new chief of ADA asked everyone serving and those who serve as part of Team Sill to be Fires strong and of good courage.
"Having just come from the pointy end of the missile for the last couple years with troops forward deployed and across the U.S., we've never looked better as a team," said the colonel. "It's due to your dedication and hard work; you don't get to feel it every day or see the results.
"However, I can assure you, our Soldiers and teammates appreciate your dedicated and faithful service. It's important, it's working, and I encourage you to keep it up, because we know there are great challenges in front of us."