JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Gardner relinquished responsibility for U.S. Army Alaska to Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Ferrusi in a change of responsibility ceremony at Hangar 1, Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson, April 14.
Representatives from USARAK units across JBER and Fort Wainwright participated in the ceremony marking the change in enlisted leadership for the Arctic Warriors.
Maj. Gen. Bryan Owens, the USARAK commanding general, remarked on the decade and a half Gardner spent in Alaska as a Soldier.
"We have been very fortunate to have a Soldier's Soldier among the Arctic Warriors and their Families for so long," said Owens.
Gardner previously served as the Command Sergeant Major the 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division also at JBER.
USARAK has a headquarters element at both JBER and Fort Wainwright, and the command team has to spend time at both locations. Owens said, "With a distance of 360 miles between Fort Wainwright and JBER this can be very challenging, but the CSM worked tirelessly to bring the entire unit together."
Gardner will retire later this year after more than 35 years of service. He spent at least 15 of those years in Alaska with his wife, Teresa, and their five children.
He book-ended his career as a noncommissioned officer in USARAK, having been promoted to Sergeant while reclassifying from the Signal Corps to a forward observer and being assigned to 4/11 Field Artillery supporting the 17th Infantry Regiment at Fort Richardson.
Gardner said, "In my many years of service I can say that Alaska has been the best assignment anyone could ever want."
Ferrusi is joining the Arctic Warriors from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, out of Fort Polk, Louisiana, where he served as the brigade Command Sergeant Major.
He completed multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and held leadership positions in the ranger regiment, asymmetric warfare group, infantry school, and 173rd Airborne Brigade in Italy during his 29 plus years of service.
"On the drive to Alaska, I was awestruck by the sheer size and beauty of this great state. The views are magnificent," said Ferrusi.
Ferrusi said he immediately noticed the difference in temperature between Louisiana and Alaska.
"The opportunity to serve our great nation at USARAK with the Arctic Warriors at JBER and Fort Wainwright, Alaska, I'm honored, I'm humbled, and I look forward to such an opportunity," said Ferrusi, "Even with the minus fifty temperatures I've been briefed about Fort Wainwright."