FORT SILL, OK (KSWO) - Fort Sill welcomed a new commanding general Thursday morning at the Old Post Quadrangle.
During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. John Rossi inspected the troops standing in formation one last time before handing the reins over to Maj. Gen. Brian McKiernan. In 2014, Rossi became the post's first commander to come from an Air Defense Artillery background.
It was hard for Rossi to say goodbye, but he knew this day was coming and says Fort Sill will be in good hands.
Rossi says while at Fort Sill, he saw a connection between Fort Sill and the surrounding communities that he's never seen before. During his time at Fort Sill, everyone on and off post made Oklahoma feel like home.
"The Field Artillery community embraced me. They knew where I had a background and where I didn't. They helped me learn, they taught me which is exactly what you want and they helped join themselves together. They saw the importance of what is now the home of two branches. One of them has been here a lot longer than the other, but it's the home for both," Rossi said.
Before the ceremony, the general's wife, Liz Rossi, received four awards for her dedication to the military and to Lawton. She was a part of 10 boards during her time and also mentored military wives.
"Everybody's just been great. I really didn't know what to expect. You know, as my husband being the first air defender, you didn't know if you were going to get, you know, the cold treatment, but actually it's been wonderful," Liz Rossi said.
Rossi received the Distinguished Service Medal for his exceptional service while at Fort Sill. He says he wouldn't be here if it wasn't for God, his family and those who helped him along the way. Rossi plans on being in the Army until they decide they no longer need him.
"You hate leaving because you try to become a team and build a team. I think we have a great team here, so you hate to leave it, but you know, in the back of your mind that this is just part of the Army, this is tradition. As commanders come and go, but the colors live on forever. So the name tag changes, but the institution and command stays," Rossi said.
Rossi and his family are headed to Redstone Arsenal in Alabama where he will lead the United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command-Army Forces Strategic Command. When he takes command on August 2, he will receive his third star.
Fort Sill's incoming commander, Maj. Gen. Brian McKiernan went through training at Fort Sill three decades ago. In 2012, he served as the commandant of the Field Artillery school on post for 16 months. McKiernan says when he left last time, he told everyone that he'd be back. Though, he thought it would be under different circumstances.
"I fully intended to return here for my retirement ceremony on the Old Post Quadrangle when that time came. I certainly never dreamed that it would be to return as the commanding general of the Fires Center of Excellence of Fort Sill," McKiernan said.
McKiernan is settling into his new position before developing plans for Fort Sill.