FORT SILL, Oklahoma (June 3, 2021) -- The Lawton Fort Sill community welcomed the new Field Artillery School commandant, and said good bye to the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill chief of staff during a retreat ceremony June 1, at Old Post Quadrangle.
Dozens of post and community leaders, service members, co-workers, families, and friends attended the 4:30 p.m. event. The U.S. flag was lowered to honor Brig. Gen. Andrew Preston and Col. Lee Overby. Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper, FCoE and Fort Sill commanding general, hosted the retreat.
Preston was introduced as the 55th commandant, chief of FA, and the FCoE and Fort Sill deputy commanding general. He was most recently at U.S. Army Pacific, where he was chief of staff.
Preston, who is originally from Edmond, Oklahoma, was assigned here years ago with the 214th Fires Brigade. He has over 30 years of service in the Army.
Preston thanked his wife, Gina, for her support. He said it was good to be back at Fort Sill.
“I can’t tell you how grateful we are, the Preston family, to return to this great state of Oklahoma,” he said in his succinct remarks. “This place will always be home to us.”
Preston said he is committed to Fires Fifty axiom No. 45: Life is more fun with great teammates. “I endeavor to be a great teammate for the Lawton Fort Sill community,” he said.
It is an exciting time to be in the field artillery branch, Preston said later. “The chief of staff of the Army’s No. 1 modernization priority is long range precision fires.”
He described his leadership style as reflective. “I like to think, and then make a decision.”
Kamper said the installation is glad to have Preston to lead field artillery during these dynamic times.
“We’re modernizing. Andy will make sure our troops, both officer and enlisted, leave Fort Sill and can immediately make an impact in their units. He will develop leaders and drive change.”
Overby has been the FCoE and Fort Sill chief of staff since June 2018. Before that, he was the commander of the 434th Field Artillery Brigade here.
Now the Houston native leaves for U.S. Army Southern Command at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. His position there has not yet been determined. The command has responsibilities in South and Central America, Overby said.
Chief of staff work is hard and consists of long nights and early mornings, Kamper said. He thanked Overby for running Fort Sill, so he could command it.
Kamper highlighted the colonel’s many accomplishments.
-Overby led the Fort Sill community in its COVID-19 response since February 2020.
-He guided the installation through the snowmageddon in February, during nine days of below freezing temperatures resulting in $30 million in damages to government facilities on post.
-The chief of staff was instrumental in the creation of the English as a Second Language pilot program on Fort Sill. This was a response to a backlog of ESL training in San Antonio because of the pandemic. “It’s so good I think we’re going to keep doing it as we emerge from COVID,” Kamper said.
-The chief also drove the founding of Frontier Teams to foster open and enduring lines of communication to build relationships between Fort Sill and the local community.
“Lee has led at the point of friction,” Kamper said. “Everyone sitting here today, and watching online, has benefitted from the outstanding leadership, commitment, and dedication that you have given our team. You will be missed for your candor, positive outlook, and quite frankly for getting things done in a positive way.”
During the ceremony, Preston and Overby were each given a ceremonial artillery canister representing the first and last round fired in their honor, respectively.
In his remarks, Overby thanked numerous leaders, directorates, commanders, and others by name. He described them as phenomenal, exceptional teammates.
He also thanked his family for their support throughout his career. “I’m immensely proud of my three kids: Chris, Austin, and Taylor, and everything that they have accomplished.”
Of his achievements here, Overby said he was most proud of the relationships that he established and maintained with senior leadership. “It’s about synchronizing, get the team on the same sheet of music, executing the CG’s (commanding general) intent. Relationships are important.”
What will Overby miss about Fort Sill?
“I’m going to miss the people,” Overby said. “We really enjoy Southwest Oklahoma, and it’s warm atmosphere. The community and the military are really close knit here.”
Before the retreat, the Overbys participated in an award ceremony at the OPQ. The colonel was presented the Legion of Merit Medal, and his wife Melissa received the Order of the Red Legacy award for the impact she made on the Lawton Fort Sill community.
Also participating in the pageantry were the 30th Air Defense Artillery color guard; B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery “Salute Battery,” 77th Army Band “The Pride of Fort Sill,” the Fort Sill Artillery Half Section, and the 75th Field Artillery Brigade flag detail. An interim FCoE chief of staff has not been named.