Fort Stewart and 3rd Infantry’s Division Artillery said farewell to the leader behind its formation, Col. John O’Grady, at his change of command ceremony on Cottrell Field.
O’Grady’s farewell is significant because during his two years at Fort Stewart, he helped with the formation of 42nd Fires Brigade and then transformed it into today’s DIVARTY with more than 2,000 soldiers.
Changes of command focus mainly on the change in leadership and some of the accomplishments of the outgoing commander. But the ceremony Friday was really a lesson in leadership and how a commander can get a task done with the support of those under their command.
“When you came in, there really was no Fires Brigade, there was no DIVARTY and you stood the organization up — converted it back to a DIVARTY, right back where it should be,” Maj. Gen. Mike Murray, the 3rd Infantry Division’s commanding general, said in a video messagefrom Afghanistan.
Brig. Gen. James Blackburn, the Task Force Marne commander, also credited O’Grady for DIVARTY’s formation and spoke about his humbleness of that act.
Blackburn also mentioned O’Grady’s leadership with the recent training operation Odin’s Thunder, an exercise that coordinated units across the world and the United States to direct fire missions on Fort Stewart.
O’Grady is going to work as the chief of staff of the Army’s Senior Fellows Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
When he spoke, O’Grady thanked God for his opportunity to command.
“If you think about an individual who really has no right to be standing here today, you’re looking at him,” he said. “And there’s got to be some plan. I don’t know what it is — maybe just a sick sense of humor — but I am thankful and I am humble for the privilege of command.”
Command is “a sacred trust that we have with the American people,” O’Grady said. “It’s an inherent fabric of our profession, and it needs to be treated as such, and it needs to be treated with reverence.”
O’Grady talked about non-commissioned officers and their creed, which is displayed in DIVARTY headquarters next to his office.
The creed “reminds me daily of what makes this organization great and what makes our Army great. And it’s the people. And it’s especially the enlisted and non-commissioned officer corps. You do all the hard things that we ask of them,” he said.
O’Grady ended by reminding the soldiers on the field what it means to be a soldier by invoking the sacrifices represented on Warriors Walk, situated on either end of Cottrell Field.
“And the last thing I’m going to tell you is,
468 trees.” O’Grady said. “They stand as guardians for what it is you should be and you must be. Don’t ever forget that, and don’t ever forget that sacrifice and what it means. You have a responsibility to live up to it as best as you possibly can each and every day.
“And I guarantee, as hard as you try, you will fall short, but that’s OK. Their sacrifice demands the effort. You all have given it each and every day. Thank you. God bless you. Rock of the Marne.”
The incoming DIVARTY commander, Col. Todd Wasmund, is coming from the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, where he supported Africa Command, which is based in Stuttgart, Germany.
“This is an exciting day,” Wasmund said before the ceremony. “It’s a privilege to join the Division Artillery here in 3ID, and I’m excited for the opportunity to serve with these soldiers.”
Wasmund credited O’Grady with how far the unit had come and how it has met the needs of the division.
“That task has been enormous,” Wasmund said. “And I have only admiration for the work that you have led so well.”