On a huge Army field festooned with flags and filled with the music of a Fort Gordon brass band, more than 100 service members and civilians stood Thursday to witness a ceremony steeped in military tradition.
Orders were read, and the regional director of the Army’s Installation Management Command handed a flag to the new leader of the Fort Gordon Garrison, an office of about 400 employees that manages the day-to-day operations of the 55,000-acre Army post.
“Sir, the ceremony has concluded,” said Col. Samuel G. Anderson, who took charge of the post, a job that carries responsibilities similar to a city administrator or mayor.
“My family and I are truly honored to call Fort Gordon our home, and I feel blessed to join the team of dedicated professionals that are the Fort Gordon Army Garrison,” the former commander of the Army Joint Communication Unit told the audience. “I am incredibly excited to work with the senior mission partners representing every branch of the military service and build upon Fort Gordon’s reputation as a premier assignment with world class programs supporting the service member, families, civilians and retirees that have given so much in defense of our nation.”
Anderson, a decorated officer and certified civil engineer from Wilmington, N.C., praised the work of his predecessor, Col. Bob Barker, the next chief of staff to Maj. Gen. LaWarren V. Patterson, the commanding officer of Fort Gordon and the Army Signal Corps.
The colonel, who began his journey at Fort Gordon in the 1990s, is returning to the Augusta area at a critical time for the post, which will see its troop levels increase by more than 1,500 soldiers as the Pentagon shifts its focus toward cyber intelligence.
Davis D. Tindoll Jr., the director of the Installation Management Command’s Atlantic Region, said he is confident Anderson will bring new energy and excellence to the garrison. Anderson is a former commander of the 369th Signal Battalion at Fort Gordon with operational experience in Somalia, Bosnia and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
“His assignments, extensive experience and military education offer impeccable credentials to build on the success of this garrison,” Tindoll said.
Thursday’s change of command at Barton Field was bittersweet for Tindoll, who lauded Barker for his “innovative leadership, superb stewardship and collaborative spirit” in nurturing many initiatives at the post, especially during a time marked by funding cuts, civilian furloughs and a reduction in 100 staff positions from the garrison payroll.
“Col. Barker’s accomplishments have been many during his tenure, but most importantly he demonstrated exceptional leadership and was a champion for the workforce, leading this garrison as they provided world-class customer service during reshaping and sequestration,” Tindoll said.
For Barker’s work, the post earned the Philip A. Connelly Award in 2012 for the best dining facility in the Army, and the service’s Joint Staff Integrated Vulnerability Assessment Team rated its anti-terrorism program as “outstanding.”
In relinquishing command, Barker thanked his parents – who were in attendance – Fort Gordon leadership, elected officials and his staff for their guidance and support in making Fort Gordon “the best installation in the Army.”
“I am at that point where it is time to transition from command, which is never an easy thing to do,” Barker said. “Garrison command is a position that nothing else in the Army prepares you for, and for a boy from Arkansas who believes Duck Dynasty is an education program, there was a lot to learn during these last two years, but I have enjoyed every minute of it.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the Fort Gordon community.”