FORT HOOD, Texas - At a ceremony here May 14, III Corps and community leaders bid farewell to Maj. Gen. Gerald “Gez” Strickland, May 14, while simultaneously welcoming Maj. Gen. Michael Keating as the new deputy commander for support (U.K.) of III Corps and Fort Hood.
“I am not an American, but you have treated me as one of your own. Actually, I think Cathy is now a Texan,” Strickland joked to the crowd attending the ceremony,
Held in front of the III Corps Headquarters, the ceremony served as the official transfer of duties from one deputy commander to another. The unique position was born between a partnership between American and British forces, to serve as a liaison.
Lt. Gen. Pat White, commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood, spoke highly of Strickland and his wife Cathy. Shortly after arriving at Fort Hood in 2019, Strickland deployed with III Corps to the Middle East in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. While serving with Strickland on the deployment, White said he would always be ready to take on any challenge he was given, proving to be invaluable and strengthening III Corps.
“It’s not easy with the structure we have at the corps headquarters and you’ve done a spectacular job,” White told Strickland.
Recalling his time at the Great Place, Strickland said when he first came to the United States, he thought he was good at English, but that all changed when he arrived at Fort Hood.
“Not only did I realize that I couldn’t spell, I also realized that I didn’t know as many words as I thought I did,” the outgoing deputy commander said with a laugh. “I started using words like finagle and copasetic.”
While serving with III Corps, Strickland’s duties included overseeing the logistical readiness of the corps, making sure all the equipment is where it should be and working properly, and he was in charge of some resilience training and activities.
“It has been quite a journey and there were some pretty momentous things that have happened,” Strickland said. “Mike and Janie, I know that you will be fantastic here. I am absolutely sure that all these wonderful people here today, who have welcomed us, will welcome you in the same way. On behalf of Cathy and myself, thank you for what has been an incredible two years and truly a privilege of an experience.”
As the fifth deputy commander for support from the United Kingdom, Keating has come to Fort Hood after last serving as the U.K. liaison for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. Keating has a background in aviation, and has notably served in the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence, Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing, and was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, an award bestowed for meritorious service to the government in peace, as well as for gallantry in wartime.
“Thanks to Gez and Cathy Strickland,” Keating said during the ceremony. “I don’t think I’m going to thank you for the size of the cowboy boots that you’ve left to fill, but I will promise you that we will do all that we can to live up to the standards that you’ve both set for us.”
Following the official ceremony, Keating met with members of the community, before receiving a welcome by the Honor Guard to cut the cake.
“The Fort Hood welcome has been superb,” Keating said. “I am looking forward to meeting Soldiers and their families, and playing my part to make their experience, and the Great Place, even greater.”