By VICKEY MOUZE
U.S. Army Cadet Command
Against a backdrop of seven upright black and gold banners, each featuring one of the Army Values—Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage—U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox honored its outgoing deputy commanding general and welcomed a new deputy commanding officer Friday at the Patton Museum of Leadership.
Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith, commander, USACC, hosted the farewell and welcome ceremony that included preceremonial music played by the 113th Army Band. In his remarks, Smith lauded accomplishments of Brig. Gen. Erik Peterson, the outgoing DCG.
During Peterson’s 10-month tenure, his responsibilities cut across traditional, functional
and organizational boundaries, Smith said.
Smith thanked him for the “…support of my vision and guidance” by, among other duties, serving as the senior trainer and mentor of eight ROTC brigades, 273 senior ROTC host programs spread throughout the country in more than 1,300 colleges and universities; and 1,731 high school Army JROTC programs worldwide.
Peterson’s “vast operational and combat experience was exactly the right match for Cadet Command at the time of his arrival last year,” Smith said; traits Peterson will draw on as he starts his next assignment as deputy commanding general, 2nd Infantry Division, Korea.
Promising at the start of his remarks that he would follow “the three Bs to guide ceremonial remarks—be brief, be brilliant and be gone,” which elicited laughter from the audience—Peterson thanked Smith for his leadership and vision. He also thanked local community and civic leaders for their support for the installation’s Soldiers and Families.
Peterson said that his tour as DCG “had been an absolutely incredible experience.” He said he’s enjoyed the opportunity to work with a great team, “enthusiastic professionals who lead our ROTC program that produce more than 75 percent of the nation’s commissioned Army officers. These are the officers that provide the leadership, the training and the confidence to lead our nation’s sons and daughters.”
Smith welcomed Col. Maria Gervais to Cadet Command by noting “that as with Army tradition, as soon as we bid farewell to one great Army team there is another lurking is the doorway ready to grab hold of the mission and take it to a new level.”
He said that Gervais’ command and staff experiences and recent experience on the Army staff will
be instrumental as Cadet Command redesigns its senior ROTC program.
Addressing her directly, Smith told Gervais it’s a great time to be joining Cadet Command, noting that significant changes are planned for the senior ROTC curriculum that will deliver a program designed to produce the highest quality officer the nation’s Soldiers deserve and the nation expects.
In her remarks Gervais, who referred to herself as a “country girl,” told the audience that after spending the last six years on the East Coast with two of those six “buried in the bowels of the Pentagon” she had looked forward to standing out on the parade field, with its wide open spaces.
However, due to possible rain, the ceremony was moved from outside to an auditorium at the Gen. Patton Museum. She said that her parents, and especially her father, would be pleased at the location of the ceremony.
“My father greatly admired Patton,” she said.
She said that a number of years ago, she had been at Fort Knox as a young ROTC cadet attending basic camp. Her drill sergeant saw potential in her, something she didn’t see in herself at the time. Realizing she did have potential to do well helped ignite the passion that she has for the Army. She wants to help ignite that spark in current and future ROTC cadets.
“Our mission here at Cadet Command is priceless,” she said. “I’m deeply honored to be a part of that.”