Command of the Air Defense Artillery (ADA) schoolhouse brigade passed from Col. Maurice O. Barnett to Col. William M. Parker at a socially distanced ceremony Thursday.
“These are bittersweet days,” Maj. Gen. Kenneth L. Kamper, commanding general of the Fires Center of Excellence (FCoE) and Fort Sill, said at a short awards ceremony preceding the 30th ADA Brigade’s change of command.
Kamper presented two awards to Barnett’s wife, Terra, the Margaret C. Corbin Award for exemplary volunteerism and her tireless work to improve the quality of life for everyone on post and the Order of the Red Legacy for the impact she made on the Lawton-Fort Sill community. He noted that in addition to volunteering all across Fort Sill, she worked as a business management coordinator at Reynolds Army Health Clinic (RAHC), and he praised her for her love, care and concern.
Barnett himself received the Legion of Merit Award for exceptionally meritorious service during his two years as commandant of the ADA School and chief of the ADA branch. Kamper credited Barnett with restoring rigor to FCoE training and “leaving the jersey in a better place.”
“The brigade didn’t stop there. The brigade provides a tremendous amount of support to multinational partners who buy our air defense equipment and make it their own. The brigade has been participating in this Maneuver Stinger program, training a bunch of folks how to operate Stingers, and then the brigade is responsible for the (two-week orientation for incoming Army medical officers),” the general said.
“And then the brigade has got this Air and Missile Defense Test Detachment that’s down at White Sands, (N.M.,) and they are currently doing a limited user test on one of our Army’s priority programs, what we call IBCS (Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System),” he added.
“I studied the air defense community, and it’s been phenomenal,” said Kamper, noting that the impact the ADA schoolhouse team has had over the past two years will last for at least two decades. He also recognized the Barnett’s three children, Whitney, Joshua and Jadyn.
Terra S. Barnett said that from the moment they arrived everyone embraced their family, and she expressed her appreciation for the people at RAHC.
“We’re just in a happy state right now, so thank you for sharing all of that with us, and we will miss you,” she said.
In his next assignment at the Pentagon Barnett will serve as executive officer to the director of the Army staff.
The outgoing commandant delivered an emotional farewell, saying he couldn’t ask for a better family, “extended and otherwise,” and gave heartfelt thanks to the Army peers he has served with over the years, among them Command Sgt. Maj. Gray. He was especially glad to have served alongside Col. Lisa Bartel, commander of 31st ADA Brigade, at every stage of their careers.
Barnett gave a special thank-you to FCoE Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Foley and his wife, Dr. Ella Foley, for feeding his wife while the Barnetts’ house had to be “de-skunked,” and he closed with two anecdotes about these striped kitties. He encountered one on his morning run, and they wisely decided to go their separate ways. Another soldier whose office is in 30th ADA Brigade headquarters wasn’t so lucky, and his workspace had to be aired out after his aromatic encounter.
The incoming ADA commandant has deployed twice to Iraq, once to Saudi Arabia early in his career and once to Gaziantep, Turkey, when he was commander of 5th Battalion, 52nd ADA, and they deployed to do the last NATO Operation Active Defense mission there.
A 1995 West Point grad, he has two Bronze Stars and four master’s degrees – a master of arts in history from Clemson University, where he was an assistant professor of military science; a master of arts in management from Webster University; a master of military operational art and science from the Air Command and Staff College, and a master of strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.
Parker said that in his leadership style everything is founded on discipline, but it’s also enabling his leaders to do what they need to do in order to be able to accomplish the mission they have.
In his last assignment he was chief of staff of 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. This is his first time to be assigned at Fort Sill, although he was in the same brigade 25 years ago when it was flagged as 6th ADA Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Parker explained how he ended up in Infantry Captains Career Course by saying, “At the time I was a short-range air defense artillery officer, and I actually requested to go to the infantry career course because one of our primary functions was to be able to support the maneuver force. And I can’t think of a much better way to be able to do that than to truly learn what they do at that level.”
Parker considers himself lucky to have come along behind a great leader like Barnett and said he will do his best to uphold the standard and the tradition of the brigade.
Parker is married to the former Kerry Bennett, and they have three daughters, Pixie, Billie and Cassie.