FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Sept. 30, 2010) -- Fort Sam Houston marked the eve of its reassignment to the Joint Base San Antonio with a transfer of authority ceremony Sept. 30.

The Air Force assumes operational control of the former Army installation Oct. 1, a move directed by the 2005 round of Base Realignment and Closure. All real property transfers to the Air Force, and more than 1,100 civilians became Air Force employees under the 502nd.

The ceremony honored Army Col. Mary Garr as her unit, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Sam Houston, completed its transformation into the 502nd Mission Support Group, an Air Force unit. The ceremony also symbolized the transfer of the garrison's Army-specific functions to the hands of Army Support Activity manager Frank Blakely.

Transfer to Air Force control marks the latest of many changes in Fort Sam Houston's 134-year history, said Lt. Gen. Guy C. Swan III, commander of U.S. Army North and senior commander on Fort Sam Houston. Those in charge of the transfer took that history into account, according to Swan. "Both the Air Force and the Army are committed to maintaining the 'Armyness' of Fort Sam as we go forward," Swan said.

Even so, "The Fort Sam we know is changing right before our eyes, and it will continue to change over the coming year," Swan said.

Services the Fort Sam Houston community relies on will continue, said Swan. "Our goal throughout the transfer process has been to raise the standard for every Soldier, Airman, Marine, Family member, retiree or civilian who comes to Fort Sam Houston for services."

The new Joint Base San Antonio is a result of a multilateral effort to shape the joint base "into a more valuable asset for the defense of our great nation," said J. Randall Robinson, director of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command West region. The joint base includes Randolph and Lackland Air Force Bases as well as Fort Sam Houston.

The new ASA will work with the 502nd so the commitments made under the Army Family Covenant, and services to Soldiers, their Families, Army retirees and civilians will continue, according to Blakely.

Garrison employees are finding work with the 502nd, ASA, the U.S. Army Network Command and other functions on the installation, according to Blakely.

Preparing for the transfer took a lot of work, Blakely said, "taking things apart, putting them into piles, and seeing how they can work together." The best solution was to empower the people who do the jobs every day. "They would figure it out," he said.

"If you think you are a person in authority just try ordering someone else's dog around," Blakely said. As ASA manager, "at least I can claim part of the dog."