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Fort Sill welcomes new commander

FORT SILL, Okla._Hundreds gathered at Fort Sill as the Fires Center of Excellence officially came under new command.

Just after 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, in a change of command ceremony, Major General John Rossi took over the reins of the military post, replacing Major General Mark McDonald. Rossi, a native New Yorker, is a graduate of West Point Academy and has served all over the world for the U.S. Army.

Major General John Rossi is the first Air Defense Artillery commander for the post. For the Fires Center of Excellence, which has made a home for air defense here since 2005, the new change of command signals a bright future for all of Fort Sill moving forward.

"Thank you and the entire Fort Sill team for the warm welcome. Mark, we served together in Iraq several years ago. I know exactly what you're capable of. Everything that I've heard or seen of Fort Sill, it reminds me of you. You have taken this organization to the next level," said Maj. Gen. Rossi.

"That's what that means, general officer. You can do this job, or you can do that job. It's absolutely necessary to have an air defense general officer here, to lead this forward," said Maj. Gen. McDonald.

Looking forward, that was the theme today as Fort Sill pulled out all of the stops in honor of a new leader. For Major General Mark McDonald Tuesday’s ceremony was all too bittersweet.

"It's really tough. I've got some sadness but I'm trying to work through that. I'm really thinking about the pride. The pride in everything that happens here," said Maj. Gen. McDonald.

As the cannons rang out, troops from nearly every brigade saluted Fort Sill's leadership, old and new.

"It's not about one person; it's about this team pulling together," said Maj. Gen. McDonald.

As the sun sets on Major General McDonald's time at Fort Sill, he says there's no doubt that Rossi's drive and expertise will guide the post in the right direction.

"I know what a great officer he is. I know what a great leader he is. He's calm in a tough situation and that's just what we need here. So he's going to be fantastic," said Maj. Gen. McDonald.

Major General John Rossi comes to Fort Sill with a long track record of leadership from all over, including Fort Bliss and Fort Hood in Texas, Korea, Germany and even southwest Asia. He is also the recipient of several medals, including the bronze star.

For the next three months, Major General Rossi will be spending much of his time getting acclimated to the post by studying other divisions like field artillery in addition to his work as an air defender.

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