FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — Fort Cavazos officials welcomed their new garrison commander Col. Lakicia Stokes and bid farewell to outgoing garrison commander Col. Chad R. Foster in a change of command ceremony July 7 here.
Foster will assume the duties as the III Armored Corps chief of staff in his next role. Stokes comes to Fort Cavazos after earning a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, III Armored Corps and Fort Cavazos commanding general, spoke about Foster and his time here.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Chad Foster was absolutely the right leader at the right time for Fort Cavazos,” Bernabe said, explaining that when Foster took command of Fort Cavazos, some critical relationships had been lost after the pandemic as well as still recovering from damages caused by Winter Storm Uri. “We all watched him build a strong team of teams. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. There’s a strong team of teams on the installation with all the green suiters and (Department of the Army) civilian professionals and also a team of teams in this great Central Texas community.”
Bernabe said the installation is grateful for Foster’s calm leadership through challenges like wildfires, another winter storm, a freeze and even a few tornados touching down in the training area, as well as improvements to the installation including barracks and housing renovations.
“We will continue to benefit from his steadfast vision, always with an eye on the future,” Bernabe said. “Chad is all about customer service; he’s all about quality of life; he’s all about caring for Soldiers, DA civilians and their families.”
Next, Bernabe welcomed Stokes.
“I’ve been getting letters and cards for the last several weeks telling me how lucky we are to add her to the team here at team Cavazos,” he said. “(She has) an absolutely stellar reputation. Known around the Army as a caring leader, a creative problem solver, a hard worker, somebody who is really gifted in building strong, meaningful relationships — that’s going to fit in very well here, Lakicia. We feel lucky that you’re going to join the team here. We are confident that under your leadership Fort Cavazos will remain the installation of choice nestled very snuggly inside this Central Texas community of choice.”
After receiving the guidon from Foster and passing it to Stokes, symbolizing the transfer of responsibility, Brenda Lee McCullough, director, U.S. Army Installation Management Command Directorate-Readiness, thanked Foster for his dedication and welcomed Stokes.
“Chad, I know this is a bittersweet moment for you,” McCullough expressed. “The Army entrusts garrison commanders to defend and secure Army installations and you, Chad, as the garrison commander led our nation’s defense of Fort Cavazos with unparalleled expertise and grace. Thank you for your commitment to the Soldiers, civilians and families of U.S. Army Garrison-Fort Cavazos.
“Lakicia, I am very excited to see you assume command at this great place,” she continued. “As a proven leader, I am confident that you will invest the same passion, professionalism and expertise in the Soldiers, civilians and family members of Fort Cavazos. They deserve nothing less.”
Then Foster took the podium and, after thanking those who helped him throughout his time as garrison commander, said he felt unprepared when he took command, but the DA civilians at the Great Place helped him overcome this.
“(They) overcome my many deficiencies in knowledge and experience in relation to the complex world of garrison and installation management command,” he said. “They are professionals. I thank them for their professionalism, but most of all I thank you all for being here. It’s been my honor to serve at your sides.”
After thanking his deputies to the garrison commander, Keith Gogas and Greta Buccellato, and garrison command sergeants major, Command Sgts. Maj. Matthew Ladd and Calvin Hall, he thanked the Central Texas community for their support.
“There’s no other installation in our Army that enjoys this level of support, fellowship, connection … you name it, we got it,” Foster shared. “I’m happy to see many members of the community with us here today. I wish I could reach out there and hug you all at the same time. You are second to none.
“Complex problems require community solutions, and our installation confronts complex problems on a daily basis,” he continued. “Therefore, we are fortunate to have a community such as this. One that stands with us when things are tough. One that steps forward when a lot of others might step back. Together we have done a lot and I know you’re going to do even more great things with Colonel Stokes at the helm. Wrap your arms around her the same way you did me and my family.”
In his final remarks, he thanked his family as well as those gathered in the East Atrium of the III Armored Corps Headquarters building.
“Thank you for making this journey with me,” he said to his family before motioning to the atrium. “This team is incredible. This is the Great Place for a reason. There’s two types of people in this world — those who know that Fort Cavazos is the greatest place on Earth to live and serve, and those that are wrong. Thank you for everything you’ve done.”
Stokes concluded the ceremony crediting God for allowing her to continue to serve with greater responsibility and her family for their support. She said she was happy to be back at Fort Cavazos taking command once again.
“It is with great pride, honor and enthusiasm that I stand before you today as the garrison commander,” she expressed. “I am deeply thankful, humbled and grateful to be joining your ranks. I promise to lead with integrity, compassion and a steadfast commitment to everyone’s wellbeing. I am confident that we continue to excel as a team and I promise to give you nothing but my best. May God bless III Armored Corps and Fort Cavazos and the United States of America.”