FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. -- Col. James Suriano was recognized by Maj. Gen. Reuben Jones at the Fort Hunter Liggett change of command, with a retirement ceremony also marking the conclusion of his 30-year Army career. Suriano commanded the Garrison at Fort Hunter Liggett from July 2009 to July 2012, following an assignment with the 353rd Civil Affairs Command as the deputy commanding officer and a second tour in Iraq.

"You know our Army keeps its promises by providing great leaders," Jones said as he bid farewell to the outgoing garrison commander. "Three years ago it demonstrated this by sending Jim Suriano. He came to Fort Hunter Liggett in order to articulate his vision for the future and to focus relentlessly on providing Soldiers the resources to train and succeed on the battlefield."

Colonel Suriano was decorated with the Legion of Merit for his outstanding service. Jones also delivered a letter of congratulations on his retirement from President Barack Obama.

Suriano was commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry after graduating as a Distinguished Military Graduate from the University of Arizona with a bachelor's degree. He began his career with the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Wash. In 1987, he reported to the 1st Battalion / 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Germany to command a mountain warfare specialty operational detachment. In 1990, he entered the Army Reserve with the 12th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

In 1994, Colonel Suriano entered the Active Guard and Reserve program. He first served as an assistant professor of Military Science at Montana State University. After transferring to Civil Affairs in 1996, he served with the 425th Civil Affairs Battalion in Santa Barbara, Calif. and the Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, N.C. While he commanded the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion in Belton, Mo., the battalion was deployed to serve Iraq, and decorated with two unit awards.

Colonel Suriano has a master's degree from the University of Arizona in Renewable Natural Resources and another from the United States Army War College in Strategic Studies. His decorations include the Legion of Merit, three Bronze Star Medals, five Meritorious Service Medals, the Special Forces Tab, the Expert Infantryman's Badge, the Combat Action Badge, Master Parachutist wings, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation, several foreign parachutist awards and the Austrian High Alpine Leader badge.