FORT SILL, Okla. (July 23, 2015) -- Col. Tracy Banister, outgoing Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill chief of staff, said goodbye to his team and his friends while welcoming Col. Paul Hossenlopp, the new chief of staff, during a retreat ceremony, July 17, in front of McNair Hall at Fort Sill.

Banister served as the chief of staff for two years, a position called "the first among equals" by Maj. Gen, John Rossi, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general. Rossi said Banister coordinated multiple areas on post and "ran the place."

"He ran the day-to-day operations, crisis ops and looked out and said 'what's next' to solve problems before they became a problem," Rossi said.

The ceremony featured the color guard as well as the 77th Army Band with support from the 156th Army Band from the Louisiana National Guard.

Banister, who is moving to be the Army chair at the Marine Corps War College in Quantico, Va., made a point to try and thank as many people as he could while keeping his speech short to get guests out of the 100-degree heat.

"The expression 'it takes a village' is an understatement to keep a chief of staff afloat," he said.
Banister ended by welcoming Hossenlopp and his family to the new position.

Hossenlopp once served as the Fort Sill Garrison commander and said he and his family looked forward to return to Fort Sill.

"We are very happy to be here," Hossenlopp said. "This is the job I wanted more than any other. For me it's a great opportunity to serve at the best post in the Army, serve alongside the best Soldiers and civilians in the Army, and to work with and be part of the fantastic Lawton-Fort Sill community."

At the end of the ceremony, Banister and Hossenlopp stood with Rossi facing the flag. Together they saluted as the colors were lowered, symbolizing the end of the duty day as well as the end of Banister's duties as chief of staff. They held their salute as the flag was raised again to full height.

"Many times I've looked at the pictures in the HQ of the great -- great leaders who have served as chief of staff in the past," said Hossenlopp. "I am truly humbled by this opportunity. I look forward to the challenge."