By John Hollis, Belvoir EagleJune 19, 2014
Fort Belvoir, Va. (June 19, 2014) - A grateful Fairfax County officially ushered in "Army Week" and bid a fond farewell to two leaders of Fort Belvoir's Garrison. Col. Gregory D. Gadson, garrison commander; and Don Carr, garrison director of public affairs, each received proclamations from the county.
The county's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to celebrate its longstanding relationship with Fort Belvoir by proclaiming "Army Week" throughout the county from June 13-21 and followed that with two more resolutions that honored the post's two soon-to-be-retirees in Gadson and Carr for their many years of service.
The ceremony, which included performances from the U.S. Army's Old Guard, underscored the close relationship long enjoyed between the county and Fort Belvoir, which is Fairfax County's largest employer. Fort Belvoir employs roughly 50,000 civilians.
"It continues to promote the importance of the relationship between Fort Belvoir and Fairfax County," said Gadson, who was accompanied by Col. Michelle Mitchell, the incoming garrison commander who officially becomes his successor in a change of command next week, "… how we really depend on each other in so many ways to exist. That complete partnership/relationship really benefits us all," Gadson said.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairwoman Sharon Bulova noted the county's relationship with the Army post dates back nearly a century, reaching back as far as when the post was still called Camp A.A. Humphreys.
She was proud the relationship between the two neighboring entities remains as close as ever. "(Army Week) is a tradition that the Board of Supervisors has had for many years and it really speaks of our close relationship with Fort Belvoir and the Army presence in Fairfax County," Bulova said.
But, the accolades provoked more visceral reactions from board members Jeffrey C. McKay and Vice-Chairman Penelope A. Gross.
McKay said the celebration of the Army was a testament to him of the many daily sacrifices made by Soldiers and their Families.
"Not a day should go by where we don't thank our Soldiers for their service, especially those near and dear at Fort Belvoir," McKay said.
Gross is a former Army Family member, whose parents were married at Fort Belvoir. She added some poignant historical perspective when she noted that, as a child, she attended integrated schools on post before Virginia's decision to follow suit in the wake of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision of 1954. Fairfax County teachers taught the integrated classes at Fort Belvoir.
Bulova, however, said that it was with mixed feelings that the governing body also individually honored Gadson and Carr, both of whom she has worked closely with over the years, for their contributions to Fairfax County.
"I've really enjoyed working with some quality people," she said.
Gadson, whose distinguished career includes three Bronze Stars for valor and a Purple Heart, said he felt "humbled" the recognition, crediting Fort Belvoir's close relationship with Fairfax County to leaders on both sides who were willing to consistently listen and stress mutual things in common, rather than differences.
Supervisors specifically cited Gadson for his "distinguished leadership and noteworthy service to Fairfax County."
"That partnership will be vital to take on those (future) challenges," Gadson said.
Carr, who retires in July, first joined the Fort Belvoir Public Affairs Office in 1993 before becoming its director in 2001. The supervisors hailed his ability to build a consensus among varying groups, while always ably representing the military leadership.
Carr, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, was praised as a "terrific PIO (public information officer) and ambassador for Fort Belvoir."