The 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley held a promotion ceremony at the division’s headquarters building May 24, 2021.
U.S. Army officer, Andrew Gainey, the deputy commanding general of maneuver, 1st Infantry Division, was promoted from the rank of colonel to brigadier general.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the ceremony had limited capacity was streamed live through the division’s Facebook page so that family and friends could attend virtually.
Gainey, who has served over 27 years as an officer, said that he was privileged to be promoted to brigadier general.
“Words cannot describe what this promotion means to me and my family,” he said. “I am absolutely honored to be the deputy commanding general, and I’m humbled by this awesome responsibility.”
Gainey reflected on his military career, and he thanked friends and other service members who have greatly influenced his life and family.
“I’m thankful you all can join me in a ceremony that doesn’t define who we are, but it defines those who have supported us,” he said. “We as a family would not be here today if were not for the support we have received.”
Among those Gainey thanked was former 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley commanding general, U.S. Army Gen. (Ret.) Vincent Brooks, who officiated at the promotion.
“Gen. Brooks, to say thank you is not enough,” Gainey said. “Thank you for your consistent mentorship, your inspiring leadership, and for going above and beyond for team Gainey.”
Brooks, who commanded 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley from 2009 to 2011, congratulated Gainey on his promotion.
“The ability to serve in the highest echelon of military rank is what the life of a general officer is,” Brooks said. “To do that with the absolute recognition that many others might’ve been chosen, but among the very few who were chosen, you get to carry that honor.”
Brooks also noted the historic nature of the occasion. He was the first black cadet brigade commander at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was one-half of the first African American General Officer brother team in the U.S. Army. He said that it brought him great honor to witness Gainey make history as one-half of the second set of African American general officer siblings. Gainey’s brother, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, is also an active duty general.
“It’s very special to be a part of that,” Brooks said. “It’s an honor to be first, but it’s even better to be replaced.”
Having mentored him throughout his military career, Brooks said that Brig. Gen. Gainey’s promotion meant a lot to him as well.
“I know the Gainey family,” he said. “I promoted his wife to colonel a few years ago and I’ve served with his brother. So, it’s gratifying to see someone that you have a relationship with and have invested in achieving; it’s a great thing.”
Brooks continued by thanking the Gainey family, and wishing Brig. Gen. Gainey the best in his future endeavors.
“You always hope to see that when the service picks a general officer, that they’re picking someone with the deepest possible foundation and the greatest possible breadth,” he said. “That’s Andrew Gainey. I believe the Army has chosen really well here, and I’m delighted to have been one among many who have cheered you on along the way.”
After the ceremony, Gen. Brooks shared memories of his time with the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley. He recalled the division’s combat history, describing it as a “culture of courage.” As commanding general, he sought to preserve traditions that went back to World War II.
One example Brooks cited was the creation of “The Long Motto Call”, a cheer that spread throughout the division and is still recited today. Brooks said that he was privileged to witness his mentee firsthand lead the division in the call as part of the promotion ceremony.
Brooks also had some advice for today’s public affairs Soldiers. He served as the U.S. Army Chief of Public Affairs from 2004 to 2006. “Be a real pro at public affairs—you can make a difference.” He also emphasized the need for storytelling as an effective communication technique.
“Teach people how to tell a story,” he said, as a technique to help Soldiers understand and share ideas about Army service.
Brooks then offered one final piece of advice to Big Red One Soldiers: keep making a difference. “History is made by doing your duty first every day.”