FORT SILL, Oklahoma, (April 30, 2021) – The Fires Center of Excellence (FCoE) welcomed one senior leader and bid adieu to two others during a retreat ceremony April 28, on the Old Post Quadrangle.
Brig. Gen. Thomas Moore arrived replacing Brig. Gen. Frank Rice as the deputy commanding general for Army National Guard Air Defense Artillery.
Also, Brig. Gen. Phil Brooks departs post having served as the commandant of the Field Artillery School, chief of FA, and deputy CG for the FCoE and Fort Sill.
An awards ceremony preceded retreat as Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper, FCoE and Fort Sill CG, heaped recognition on Rice’s wife, Skippy, and Brooks’ wife, Lori.
Kamper delighted the audience as he informed all about the significant contributions of the two wives while downplaying their husband’s contributions.
Rice and Brooks were each awarded the Legion of Merit. Brooks also received the Knights Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. Polish diplomat Robert Rusiecki, consul general of the Republic of Poland in Houston, Texas, presented the medal on behalf of President Andrzej Duda. It is the highest recognition awarded during times of peace for those who contribute to, in this case, Polish-American relations, said Rusiecki.
Brooks commanded the 1st Infantry Division Forward in Poland from 2019 to 2020.
The retreat ceremony began with the three generals marching to the position of honor as Kamper deferred honors to them.
The presentation of honors was initiated by the 77th Army Band followed by an 11-round salute by B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery.
Kamper opened by lauding Rice’s contributions over a period of three years as the primary adviser to Army National Guard air and missile defense regarding modernization, training, and force development for the Army.
“His work in establishing the National Guard Patriot Training Program and his leadership with the National Capitol Region mission showed he was the epitome of an engaged leader who puts his subordinates’ needs above his own,” said Kamper.
Turning his thoughts to Moore, who he called the right person at the right time with the right set of experiences and leadership.
“Tom, we’re glad you’re on our team of teams and look forward to serving with you,” said Kamper.
He then noted Brooks gridiron prowess for moving the ball downfield in force modernization, professional development of the Fires force, and increasing Fires force readiness.
“The field artillery branch has benefited from his commitment to developing leaders and driving change,” said Kamper. “Phil brought a new level of collaboration and coordination here.”
Rice, who is also the deputy CG for the 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command for the South Carolina Army National Guard, then expressed his appreciation to all assembled. “I’d like to thank all the folks that made this an incredible learning experience and opportunity for me and made this a one-team, one-fight reality.”
Moore opened his remarks commending the Soldiers on the field for looking outstanding before addressing his predecessor.
“Frank, thank you for your friendship. We truly have been battle buddies for quite a few years. Your leadership inspires us all to a higher level of achievement,” said Moore, also the assistant adjutant general for Army, Ohio Army National Guard, in Columbus.
In regard to the experience factor Kamper mentioned for his selection, Moore said he carries with him experience in the Stinger Man-Portable Air Defense System and the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense System. He thanked Kamper for giving him the nod to join the team and will look for ways to “make the Soldiers’ lives better, better equip them, or further the modernization timelines so they get what they need sooner.”
Brooks then took to the microphone thanking the Polish president.
“Thanks for your continued partnership and cooperation with American Soldiers here and deployed throughout Poland,” he said.
Brooks said he and his wife thought they would call Fort Sill home for a couple years, but that was cut short. “It’s time to ruck up and move on to our next objective.”
Each general referred to the Fires 50 axiom in their speeches. For Brooks it was No. 26, “Humans learn two ways: (through) significant emotional experiences and repetition,” both of which they experienced.
“There are few things that can bring a team closer together than an opportunity to continue to lead and serve through adversity,” he said.
Other participants in the ceremony were: the Fort Sill Installation Color Guard, provided by the 31st ADA Brigade; and the installation flag detail, manned by the 428th FA Brigade; the Fort Sill Artillery Half Section; and 31st ADA Brigade Chaplain (Capt.) Dale McKee.