Friday proved to be a bittersweet farewell for one command team, as another friendly face took the reins of Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI). Maj. Gen. James L. Terry relinquished command to Maj. Gen. Mark. A. Milley during a ceremony at Magrath Gym.
Also during the ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher K. Greca, 10th Mountain Division (LI) senior enlisted adviser, also relinquished responsibility to Command Sgt. Maj. Rick Merritt. Merritt most recently served as senior enlisted adviser for Regimental Special Troops Battalion, 7th Ranger Regiment. Greca will soon report to the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Gen. David M. Rodriguez, commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, talked about Terry's accomplishments during his two years as commanding general.
"Today is a special day for these two great Army Families, these two great warriors, this community and most importantly, the Soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers of this great division," he said.
Commanding Soldiers is a special time in a leader's career, Rodriguez said.
"There is no greater honor and privilege in the Army than to lead American Soldiers," he said. "Commanding the 10th Mountain Division is a rare and extraordinary opportunity that comes with a full complement of challenges -- operational deployments, extended command and control relationships across multiple installations and strategic partnerships."
Rodriguez also praised the community's support of Fort Drum Soldiers and Families.
"The citizens in the North Country have always been there in a time of need, particularly in recent years as America's Army has executed repetitive deployments throughout the world," he explained. "They've been there to share with their Soldiers and Families in times of joy, and more importantly, comfort them in times of sorrow."
"Today they share in our joy as we recognize the accomplishments of a great command team. They also share in sadness as we bid a fond farewell to friends," he continued. "They also share in excitement as we welcome back old friends -- Mark and Hollyanne."
Rodriguez also congratulated Greca and his wife, Darena, on their 25 years of Army service and service to the division and welcomed Merritt and his wife, Elizabeth.
"He and his wife, Darena, have given of themselves in countless ways to the Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division," he said.
Terry, who will assume command of V Corps soon, reflected on his time at Fort Drum -- totaling nearly seven years in all -- the ups, the downs, the great Soldiers he's led and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
"As I look at the colors here today, I am reminded of all the Mountain Soldiers of the past, the present and the future," Terry said. "To each of you here -- Soldiers, leaders, Family Members and community members -- please know how humbled I am to have had the honor to take care of our Soldiers and Families, both in and out combat."
"I visited Memorial Park this week and reflected on my time serving this division and installation," he continued. "It is a hallowed place that always reminds of our history and lineage."
As Terry looked at the units standing in formation before him, he reflected on the last few months of his deployment in Afghanistan.
"Words cannot describe how special it was to be in Kandahar when Osama bin Laden met his fate, and then to raise our nation's flag over Kandahar Airfield on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 -- the birth place of the Taliban -- was especially gratifying," Terry said.
"Julie and I have been blessed to lead Soldiers and Families in the 10th Mountain Division now, not once, not twice, but three times," he continued. "We would not be here today if it were not for their sacrifices and the support of this great North Country community."
Terry welcomed his successor back to Fort Drum. The Milley Family is back in the North Country for the third time. Milley first served as a staff officer for 2nd Brigade in the 1990s, then as 2nd Brigade Combat Team commander from 2003-2005, and now as division commander.
"Without a doubt, if Julie and I could have picked any Army couple to replace us, it would have been Mark and Hollyanne Milley," Terry said. "They, too, have raised kids here and … have been members and understand this great North Country community."
Milley graciously thanked Terry and Rodriguez for their compliments and confidence.
"This is a special day in a special place," Milley said. "For us, it is here at Fort Drum … that our kids came of age and spent their formative years. They were educated in the Carthage school system, played in the snow, romped around the Thousand Islands and most importantly, learned how to play lacrosse, which they both have gone on to play at the collegiate level."
Milley said Fort Drum and the North Country is his Family's "second home," and they are excited to lead the division.
"Today is really about celebrating the achievements of the extraordinary men and women represented by the Soldiers in front of us today," he explained. "It is about thanking their Families for their unwavering support during multiple deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan (and) showing our appreciation to the Fort Drum community who support this division and post unlike anywhere else in the Army. It's about honoring the legacy of those veterans … who have given so much of themselves in defense of freedom."
Secretary of the Army John McHugh also attended the ceremony and expressed his support for the 10th Mountain Division's newest commanding general.
"(Maj.) Gen. Milley knows Fort Drum -- I think his total post time here has been about five years," McHugh said. "You're not promoted to lead any division -- (especially) one that I would argue is as particularly busy as the 10th Mountain Division is -- if the Army didn't have the utmost faith in your skill and your abilities."
During his more than 30-year career, Milley has "consistently shown himself to be a leader of great Soldiers, has done a terrific job and has earned the opportunity to lead a division that I know his heart is particularly special to him," he added.