FORT BELVOIR, Va. (June 27) -- Col. Gregory D. Gadson assumed command of Fort Belvoir from Col. John J. Strycula, June 25, during a ceremony at Long Parade Field.
Gadson, wounded in Iraq in 2007, is the first bi-lateral amputee to command an Army installation. He takes this position after serving as the Director of the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program. He said he is proud to join, "such a first-rate team of professionals in the garrison staff.
"All anyone has to do is look around the post today to see the great work they do," said Gadson. "I have no doubt we will continue to provide first-rate facilities and services to our Soldiers, civilian workforce, Families, retirees and others who consider Fort Belvoir their home."
Lt. Gen. Michael Ferriter, Commander, U.S. Army Installation Management Command and Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, hosted the ceremony and spoke of the demands of a garrison commander.
Ferriter said garrison command is perhaps the most complex job in the Army because of its various responsibilities.
He said the installation is fortunate to have Gadson as its new commander because of the lessons he has learned having served in battle.
"We use the word inspire, because it's something deeper than movement, it's something that naturally comes with them every single day," Ferriter said. "They see something that isn't quite right and will divert and solve that problem right away. They won't quit until they've taken care of the last person every single day."
He also said Gadson can be an inspiration for the Soldiers currently in Belvoir's Warrior Transition Battalion since he is a double-amputee who has become a garrison commander.
"He has shown it's not about what you can't do but what you can do," said Ferriter. "He says to himself, 'These are the conditions in my life. Now, what do I need to do to take care of people.'"
Gadson said he is thrilled and privileged to be part of the Fort Belvoir community, but is humbled and reminded of all those who helped bring him to this point in his career.
"Whatever I've done to reach this point in my career is more a testament to the Soldiers, leaders and employees with whom I've served," said Gadson. "And, certainly, the patience and support of my Family."
Ferriter also spoke of Strycula's dedication and leadership during the last two years, saying the installation was fortunate to have been led by him.
He said Strycula's character, his care for the mission, and because Strycula never lost sight of what a leader does, is what made him so successful at the garrison level; as was his willingness to be a visible part of the community.
"At the garrison level, every single day there is something happening," said Ferriter. "The leaders who get out and can be a teacher and show what the standard is, that's what you need at the garrison level. That's what (Col.) John Strycula was."
Strycula thanked the garrison directorates for preparing him to be a garrison commander and said he has no doubt they will do the same for Gadson.
Strycula thanked Ferriter, Brig. Gen. John Uberti, Deputy Commanding General for Support for the U.S. Army Installation Management Command and Maj. Gen. Michael Linnington, Military District of Washington commander, for having confidence in him and giving him the privilege of commanding Belvoir. He also thanked all the partner organizations on post and said he does not call them tenants because it implies they have no ownership in Belvoir's success.
Strycula summed up his feelings on leaving Fort Belvoir by using a quote from Dr. Seuss.
"'Do not cry because it is over, smile because it happened,'" said Strycula. "As I walk off this beautiful parade field today, you will see me smiling because I had the honor and privilege to work with all of you as the Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander."
Gadson has served in the Army for more than 20 years as a field artillery officer, and has served in major conflicts and contingencies during the past two decades.
Those conflicts include Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.