FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Aug. 27, 2020) -- Commanding General Maj. Gen. Kenneth Kamper formally welcomed five Army leaders to key roles at the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill at a ceremony here Aug. 20.The honorees included Col. Phil Brooks, Field Artillery School commandant, chief of the FA branch, and deputy commanding general of the FCoE and Fort Sill; Col. Richard Harrison, Air Defense Artillery School commandant, chief of the ADA branch, and deputy commanding officer of the FCoE and Fort Sill; FCoE and Fort Sill Chief of Staff Col. Lee Overby; FA School Command Sgt. Maj. Michael McMurdy; and ADA School Command Sgt. Maj. Randy Gray.Because Kamper deferred honors to the above five, the 13 rounds fired by B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery were accorded to them rather than the major general.Staff Sgt. Kevin Morales, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Artillery Half Section, and his troops presented not one but four bouquets of flowers to the wives of four of the honorees: Laurie Brooks, Tyra Harrison, Melissa Overby, and Beth McMurdy. They also presented flowers to Harrison’s two daughters, Aliyah and Alexa, and a small memento to his son, Collin.“This is the home of artillery: field artillery, and air defense artillery. It’s always a great day when you can see the cannons going off, a little smoke in the distance,” Kamper said. “This morning what we’ve got is five teammates onboard, and we’re proud to welcome them with this ceremony today.”Kamper noted that the Brookses have a son, Wes, who’s an Army Medical Corps officer in San Antonio, and a daughter, Amelia, majoring in business at the University of Kentucky. Col. Harrison’s wife Tyra is director of academic programs and student support services for Richmond (Virginia) Public Schools. Their older daughter, Aliyah, has a graduate-level degree in communications from George Mason University, and their younger daughter, Alexa, is a sophomore at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte. Their son, Collin, is a high school freshman.Melissa Overby, wife of the new Fort Sill chief of staff, teaches algebra at Elgin (OKla.) Middle School. Their son, 2nd Lt. Austin Overby, a student in Field Artillery Basic Officer Leader Course Class No. 5-20, got an hour off from class to watch the ceremony.His follow-on assignment will be with 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Germany, and he is doing some Ranger PT in hopes of a slot in Ranger School. Their other son, Chris, lives in Houston, where he teaches Texas history. Their daughter, Taylor, is a sophomore at Elgin High School.The McMurdys’ daughter Bailey graduated from New York University last year and their son Major is a senior in high school.Gray’s significant other of six years, Amber, was in Louisville, Kentucky, with their 3-month-old son, Maximus Claude. Gray has another son, Earl, who’s working for a factory in Urbana, Illinois, and two daughters, Ashlee, a nurse’s assistant with two children of her own in Columbia, South Carolina, and Randi, a research assistant who just completed her master’s degree at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.“It’s an exciting time to be here at Fort Sill, very exciting time. We’re on the cutting edge of modernization in many respects, with materiel things,” Kamper said. “We’re also on the cutting edge on all the other stuff that happens. We refer to it commonly as the DOTMLPF-P. It’s force structure, it’s people, it’s policy, it’s training, facilities, and all of that stuff. All that stuff that the commandants are deeply involved in.“In the field artillery world, we’re going to field the first hypersonic battery a year from now, up in (Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington). And that’s coming right at us, and a year is going to go fast and there’s a lot of work we’ve got to do.“That’s only one of the things. We’ve got Extended-Range Cannon Artillery coming. We’re going to put artillery in Army formations in the operational Army that can shoot out to 70 kilometers. A distinct change from the past 30-plus years.“On the air defense artillery side, they’re testing right now at White Sands Missile Range an Integrated Air and Missile Defense (Battle Command) System which will dramatically change the way we’ve done business in Patriot air defense. Before, we’d have one radar linked to one missile launcher, and this new system lets us go (from) any federated networked radar to best shooter. It’s revolutionary, it’s being tested right now,” Kamper said.The CG said that fundamentally Fort Sill does four things.“We increase force readiness across the force with the people that we train and put into the operational force, with the materiel solutions that generate out of our schoolhouse that goes out to the operational force … “We turn civilians into Soldiers, and we do that not just across the street in basic training but we do it on this side, too. New lieutenants, and then the basic trainees flow into the advanced individual training.“We enable the development of a professional Fires force. Captains come back for Captains Career Courses, noncommissioned officers come back twice for two different type courses, and then there are several other smaller professional development courses that we do here throughout the life-cycle of our Fires force,” Kamper noted.“What we’re trying to do here at the Fires Center of Excellence is to imbue a culture of values in everything we do, of fitness and resiliency. And while we do that, pursue some excellence in the fundamentals,” he added.Kamper said the five honorees have the energy and the enthusiasm to do all that “and have a little fun while we’re at it, hopefully. I’m not saying it’s all fun. There’s a lot of hard work. It’s tough work, and it’s challenging with the rate and pace of change that’s going on right now in our Fires force, but these folks are going to be senior leaders on the team and help us do it.”Harrison said he is honored to serve as the 44th commandant of the ADA School.“As a lieutenant I never dreamed I’d be the ADA commandant, and certainly not the first black commandant pictured on that wall (in Snow Hall). I’m humbled for this honor. This is truly an exciting time in our Army, and especially the Air Defense Artillery branch. We are fielding new equipment and innovative ways and weapons and capabilities to protect our Soldiers, our friendly forces and critical assets, as well as our allies and partners,” Harrison said.One of the five, Command Sgt. Maj. Randy Gray, has been serving as 30th ADA Brigade command sergeant major here for the past two years. Aug. 20 was his first day on the job as ADA School command sergeant major, and he will be dual-hatted until 30th ADA Brigade gets a new command sergeant major late this fall.Regarding Overby, Kamper said being chief of staff is hard work: “The chief runs the organization so that I can command it.”Overby will have to synchronize the whole staff, including the new teammates. He will interact with subordinate units, lead across all the centers of excellence in the Army, and he is linked into a couple of higher headquarters.“I’ve got full trust and confidence in all of you-all’s abilities. Thanks for all that you will do here, together, on our Army team of teams,” Kamper told the five.