By Fort Sill Tribune staffJune 28, 2018
FORT SILL, Oklahoma (June 28, 2018) -- The 428th Field Artillery (FA) Brigade received a new command team during a combined change of command, and responsibility ceremony June 22, at Rinehart Fitness Center here.
Col. Jeffrey Buck and Command Sgt. Maj. Gerry German serve as the commander and CSM, respectively, of the "Cornerstone Brigade."
Outgoing commander Col. Joe Bookard moves on to Washington, D.C., to the Army Rapid Equipment Force. Outgoing Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Oliver becomes a liaison at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., with the 4th Battlefield Coordination Detachment.
Hundreds of service members, families, friends, veterans, and post and community leaders attended the 8:30 a.m. ceremony. The 428th FA Brigade trains all Army field artillery men and women, Marines, and international students; assists with FA research and development; and provides the ceremonial salute battery here.
Maj. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner, Fires Center of Excellence (FCoE) and Fort Sill commanding general, officiated the ceremony. He welcomed the Bucks and the Germans, and he thanked and noted the accomplishments of the outgoing command team.
Shoffner said the 428th FA Brigade is the heart and soul of field artillery.
"There's been a lot of focus on modernization, new weapons systems, and new equipment, but without the Soldiers and leaders who have mastered their craft that this brigade produces, those weapons don't really matter, they really don't work," Shoffner said. "This brigade has a special bond with every unit in the operating force because they are your customers.
"I can think of no other unit that I have seen in 30 years that contributes as much to its branch than the 428th does," the general said.
Shoffner recounted the many accomplishments of the brigade since Bookard took command June 14, 2016, which included:
- Integration of the joint fires observer training into the FA Basic Officer Leader Course
- Modernizing gunnery, and fires support n Expansion of military occupational specialty 13F training
- Integration of female Soldiers into field artillery
"Joe, you should leave here proud of what you have done, you should take pride in what your former students will do in units and on the battlefield," Shoffner said.
The general said Buck was going from a busy job as G3 to a just as demanding job as brigade commander.
"We are excited that he is going to take command of this brigade," Shoffner said.
Buck didn't have to travel far to take the reins of the 428th FA Brigade. He most recently served as the director of G3/5/7 (Operations, Plans and Training) at the Fires Center of Excellence. It was a position he held for almost one year.
"It's been a great year to be the G3 just to get an understanding of the Fort Sill mission, and the brigades' missions," he said. "It's really given me a good background."
Buck said he leads by example.
"That's my expectation of all the leaders in the brigade," said Buck, who was an enlisted fire direction specialist from 1990-93. "They start with that type of leadership, and practice servant leadership. We enforce standards, but we are serving those who we lead." He thanked his family, and the Soldiers of the 428th FA Brigade. "I am proud to be the newest member of your ranks. I am honored and humbled to be blessed with this privilege, and I look forward to serving with you while meeting the challenges that lie ahead."
German arrived at Fort Sill June 10. He was most recently the CSM for 2nd Battalion, 306th FA at Fort Stewart, Ga. German originally came through Fort Sill for basic combat training, and advanced individual training as a field artilleryman in late 1991. Although he returned here over the years for advanced training, he was not permanently assigned to Fort Sill.
"It feels great (to be back)," he said. "I've sat through a few AIT graduations that brought back a lot of memories."
German described his leadership style as being engaged with Soldiers, across the board.
"I am a Soldier's Soldier sergeant major," he said.
He added: "I'm looking forward to being a part of this outstanding organization and this community."
Before the ceremony, Bookard was presented the Legion of Merit Medal by the commanding general. Bookard's wife, Dr. Katina Bookard, was presented with the Alice Grierson Award, and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin's Commendation for her work in the Lawton-Fort Sill community.
Bookard acknowledged the brigade Soldiers standing in formation on the gym floor.
"The brigade's many successes are a reflection of pride, hustle and desire our leaders display on a daily basis," Bookard said. "I take no credit for the awesome experiences and achievements that the brigade has accomplished."
Bookard went on thank his family, and numerous key leaders by name for their work on moving the brigade toward excellence on a daily basis.
"To the battalion commanders, the battery command team, first sergeants, sergeants major: You have all been the right leaders, at the right time for this organization. Job well done.
"I'm proud to have walked side-by-side with you across our Army for the last 24 months," Bookard said. "God has allowed our paths to cross for this season called brigade command. You were strategically placed and provided opportunities for us to move toward our destinies. I'm extremely grateful and enjoyed the privilege of commanding a United States Army field artillery brigade."
Oliver said he was looking forward to his new assignment with the Air Force, but that he would truly miss being with Soldiers, which was part of his everyday duties and responsibilities as a brigade CSM.
"I got to touch all 13-series at any given time," he said, referring to the field artillery military occupational specialties. "For that, I am extremely elated and proud."
He added, "It's been a great ride. The Lawton-Fort Sill community has been great not only to myself, but also the 428th 'Cornerstone' Brigade. I'd like to thank everybody for their support."