FORT SILL, Oklahoma (March 12, 2020) -- A March 6 change of command that doubled as a retirement ceremony for Maj. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner had everything going for it: blue skies, historic surroundings, an inspection of the troops aboard a World War II-era half-track, and a re-enactment of a photo once taken of the general's father exiting Sherman House.The reviewing officer was Lt. Gen. James E. Rainey, commanding general of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the higher headquarters for the Fires Center of Excellence (FCoE) and Fort Sill.AWARDS
At an awards presentation before the change of command ceremony, Rainey offered high praise for Shoffner's ability to set the standard, on and off the battlefield."I could talk for an hour, at least, if I wanted to start listing accomplishments of this great officer," Rainey said.Rainey credited Shoffner with being both a fire supporter and an artilleryman: "He can go out and support a maneuver commander and decide fights, which is what guys like me expect from artillery … The dudes shooting, they've got to know what they're doing, too. Because it's supposed to hit where it was going, and people get hurt when it doesn't. And he's a technical expert at that."More than that, Shoffner was a maneuver warrior. "He turned an artillery battalion into a maneuver battlespace-owning battalion in combat, and succeeded," Rainey said.As a general, Shoffner not only served as the Army's senior artilleryman but also excelled on the talent management task force, Rainey noted."If you give it to him, you know he's going to be successful. He's going to hit home runs," Rainey said.FAMILY
"The one thing every great officer I've ever been around has in common, is their spouse is way better than them, way more talented, and really, raising your family and supporting your Soldier is not something we take for granted," he said.With that, Rainey presented Shoffner the Distinguished Service Medal for meritorious service to the government in duties of great responsibility over a 31-year Army career.Shoffner's wife, Carron, received three awards.First was the Army's Distinguished Public Service Medal for more than 3,400 hours of volunteer service over the course of 22 years.Second, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt extended his appreciation for her support of Fort Sill, where she served as senior adviser for the Spouse Development Course, adviser to the board of directors for the Lawton school district, and chairman for SillFACTS.Third was the Order of the Red Legacy for the impact Carron Shoffner made on the Lawton Fort Sill community, the FCoE, and the Army.The Shoffner's daughter, Kristin also attended the ceremony.Shoffner said he was "touched beyond words" that so many members of their immediate family, their Army family, and their extended family, which includes the Lawton Fort Sill community, could be present.COMMAND CHANGE
During the change of command, B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery "Salute Battery" fired 13 rounds in Shoffner's honor.A ceremonial canister representing the last round fired was presented to Shoffner later in the ceremony by Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Hollamen, first sergeant, B/2-2nd FA.Next, Shoffner, Rainey, and incoming commander Maj. Gen. Kenneth L. Kamper joined Fort Sill Chief of Staff Col. Anthony Lugo aboard a half-track driven by Air Defense Artillery Museum Director Jonathan Bernstein for an inspection of the Soldiers and Marines in formation.During the ceremony, FCoE and Fort Sill Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Foley handed the FCoE colors to Shoffner, who ceded the colors to Rainey. The lieutenant general then transferred the colors to Kamper symbolizing the change in leadership. Kamper then returned the colors to Foley for safekeeping.CAC COMMANDER
In his speech, Rainey thanked the Shoffners and welcomed the Kampers. He described Shoffner as a great artillery officer, who had an incredible career."He, his brother, and their father, they come from a legendary artillery family," he said.There are four ways to judge whether an Army career, regardless of rank, has been successful, said Rainey, who commissioned as an infantry officer."First, would the people who worked for you come work for you again if it was up to them?," Rainey said. "From the number of people who are here that is obviously evidence that you met that high bar."Second, would the people that you worked for hire you again?," Rainey asked. "I think that's a resounding yes, also."Third, during a tough day in combat would your fellow warfighters be glad to hear your voice on the radio? "I can attest to that having served with you and that's a resounding yes," Rainey said.Fourth, at the end of your career are you walking off with your family; did you bring the most important part of your life with you through this hard journey? Carron and Kristin - that's four-for-four, Rainey said.Rainey called Kamper the perfect commander to build on Shoffner's success."He's a Soldier's Soldier," Rainey said. "When people talk about him you hear terms like leader, warrior, teammate, team builder … unquestioned character, competence, and commitment."Rainey then presented Shoffner his retirement certificate.Shoffner recounted his family history, which included his father getting married at Fort Sill's Old Post Chapel in 1961, and retiring here in 1993.His grandfather had enlisted in the Army in 1934 at Fort Sill. About 30 years before that his mother's and father's families had moved into the then-Indian territory, later Oklahoma territory."My career is really another chapter in our family's history, and that of Fort Sill's great history," Shoffner said.Reflecting on his 28 months of command at the FCoE, Shoffner said he was proud of the relationship Fort Sill has with Lawton. He also said it was an absolute honor to serve alongside the leaders, Soldiers, and Marines here."The most important gifts that I will have received from this experience here are the relationships that Carron and I will carry with us," he said. "I look forward to continuing our relationships into the next chapter. Fires Strong!"Kamper and his wife, Krista, were accompanied by their two children.He was succinct in his comments, but made three points."Al (Maj. Gen. Shoffner), we all have the deepest respect for your leadership, and all that the team and team of teams have done under your watch," he said. "Well done on your career of service.""It's simply an honor to serve at Lawton Fort Sill," Kamper said. At the end of the day, it's the service members who have to be able to fight and win. That's why what we do here is so important, and why we must invest in our people and develop our leaders.He concluded by thanking everyone in formation, and in attendance for a world-class welcome.After the ceremony, Kamper said that until now, he has only been to Fort Sill as a lieutenant and a captain attending schools."We've always loved it here, and we're excited to be part of the Lawton Fort Sill community. The close bond between Soldiers and the community, it's unbelievable in Lawton, he said."This place (FCoE) is fundamentally on track. Our primary goal is to develop leaders here. We've got to modernize the field artillery and the air defense artillery, but primarily we're training and growing leaders here. We're going to keep doing that for a long time," Kamper said.