By Mitch MeadorDecember 6, 2018
FORT SILL, Okla., Dec. 6, 2018 -- The commandant of the Air Defense Artillery (ADA) School and chief of the ADA branch became the Army's newest brigadier general at a promotion ceremony here Nov. 29.
Lt. Gen. James Dickinson, commanding general of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., pinned on Brig. Gen. Brian Gibson's first star.
Dickinson recalled that when Gibson was with 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command at Fort Bliss, Texas, he was forward-deployed in theater.
"Brian spent a few months over there, and I can remember the phone call very clearly where he called back and said, 'Hey, sir, you know I am taking the 69th ADA Brigade command, and I'm going to do that here in theater, and I've already been here 12 months or so.' And I said, 'Well, sure, Brian, you can come home for 24 hours and then turn around and go back for another nine months.' Just because I'm a very caring kind of guy, right?" Dickinson joked.
"What he did do was he came back, and he moved his family from Carlisle Barracks, Pa., down to Fort Hood, Texas (where the 69th ADA Brigade is based). And then Brian immediately got back on a plane, came to theater and took over from (now Brig. Gen.) Randy McIntire.
"But what does that mean? And it just dawned on me that meant that (Gibson's wife) Cheryl and the boys were at a new location. Not totally new, but in a new environment as a brigade commander's wife and family. And now what do you do when you have an entire brigade that is deployed?
"And so, Cheryl, you picked it up. That's a hard job to do, but that's indicative of the great Army spouse that you are, and have been, and will continue to be," Dickinson said.
Dickinson said the Army is all about people, "and today we're going to recognize a great leader. I will tell you that in the Army of the United States today, there are about 78,000 active-duty officers. Out of that, there's, on any given day, about 120 brigadier generals That's (less than) 2/10ths of 1 percent."
Gibson graduated in 1992 from Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill., where he earned a degree in math and was commissioned through ROTC. He also holds a master of arts degree in computer resources and information from Webster University and a master's in national security and strategic studies from the Army War College.
At the beginning of his career, he spent almost seven years in Germany during the turbulent times after the Berlin Wall came down. After Germany he spent almost 30 months as a marketing officer for the Recruiting Command in Las Vegas. Then he commanded 1st Battalion, 44th ADA, and its parent organization, the 69th ADA Brigade. His deployments have taken him to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
Dickinson recalled their service together with 1st Battalion, 7th ADA, at Fort Bliss, where the commanding general said he needed a Patriot battalion to go to the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, La. They had just returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom, but 1-7th ADA was tagged for the mission. Some units spend up to a year preparing for a rotation through a combat targeting center, but Gibson put together a very good training program in the two months allotted and 1-7th ADA deployed by rail to Fort Polk.
"That was the first and the last time that we've ever had Patriot at the JRTC or at the (National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif.)," Dickinson said. "Brian did that flawlessly and made a remarkably positive impression on me.
"The Army made the absolute right choice in picking Col. Brian Gibson to be a one-star general. He has all the potential, all the talent, (and) all the skills that we need as a future leader, and he's coming into the Army at a very important time, a very important time in particular for the Air Defense Artillery branch," Dickinson said.
Gibson's promotion was back-dated to Nov. 2, 2018. His father, Dennis Gibson of Indianapolis, and his father-in-law, Jack Lueckenbach of Fort Sill, replaced the shoulder board insignia on his uniform. His sons, Josiah and Simon, replaced his epaulettes. His wife, Cheryl, presented his general officer's belt. ADA School Command Sgt. Maj. Finis Dodson presented Gibson both his sidearm for personal protection and his one-star general officer's flag. Dickinson then administered the oath of office.
In his remarks Gibson acknowledged a host of family members and friends who were present, and one who wasn't -- his mother.
"I know she's looking down today, and she's proud," Gibson said.
Gibson has been here six months of his 27-year Army career, but he called this "an absolutely wonderful community."
"The Army has plans for us, we know, and we're here to serve at the pleasure of our Army," he said.