Geico Cheeks

Transitioning: Change of Command

“Being a Garrison Commander is arguably one of the toughest but yet rewarding jobs in the Army!”

~ COL Glenn A. Kennedy, II

A change of command ceremony is a military tradition that represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility from one to another. Bidding farewell to one Garrison Commander and welcoming another is always a difficult but celebratory event. Fort Gordon recently found itself performing this tradition with the change of command between Colonel Samuel Anderson and Colonel Todd Turner.

COL Anderson began his journey as Fort Gordon’s Garrison Commander three years ago with the hope of “making every aspect of the support we provide here better than its ever been.” While that hasn’t been an easy task, COL Anderson succeeded in improving existing programs and creating new programs within MWR. COL Turner;s intent is quite similar. He stated, “We will need to continuously assess the validity of current Family & MWR programs and the need for new Family & MWR programs as the demographics evolve over the next several years.” The FYI recently interviewed both Colonels on their thoughts in exiting and entering this important role.


anderson_headshotCOL Samuel Anderson

Q: What are your future plans?

A: I will relinquish command and then assume the duties as the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence, so I will be able to continue watching all the great things that Family & MWR does for the Service Members and Families of Fort Gordon. I will also be one of the beneficiaries of all the initiatives underway coming to fruition.

Q: Looking at your many accomplishments within the Fort Gordon Family & MWR since your command, what is your most significant accomplishment? (What are you most proud of?)

A: Well, for starters I didn’t personally accomplish anything—the MWR team here on Fort Gordon is truly amazing and makes it easy for me to provide general guidance and basically get out of the way so the professionals can do their job. There are a couple of areas, however, that I am particularly proud of. The first area is in the delivery of CYSS services. This particular workforce has been through some daunting challenges, and the criteria to actually work in CYSS has been heavily regulated. In spite of these challenges, we have brought on incredible, caring staff, have increased our offerings, and improved our product. The high demand for their services is the best measurement of their success. I wish people on the Installation had a better understanding of how hard this work is, how dedicated the staff is that performs it, and how superior Military Child Care is to any comparable service in the country. It is truly an example of the military setting a standard of excellence for an entire Industry.

Another area that I am particularly proud of is the improvement we’ve made in providing fun and affordable opportunities focused on our young service members and their families.  As I stated in my initial interview with FYI, I wanted to really concentrate Family & MWR resources to delivering “things young families could enjoy”.  The Fort Gordon Run Series, the improvements to our fitness facilities, the introduction of free golf to young service members, the increase to our Sportsmen Complex, free Disc Golf, the Dog Park, the expansion of our operation at Pointes West, and the proliferation of “MWR food operations” are just a few examples of the things Family & MWR has undertaken with the specific intent of servicing young families.

Q:  Is there anything you had in mind to accomplish that you did not have enough time to complete?

A:  Obviously, there are some things that take more planning, and more resources, than I was able to see through completion.  I’m excited about the future expansion of the Courtyard Facility into a place for families to hang out and enjoy good food and entertainment.  The renovation of the Gordon’s Conference and Catering Center is another project that will greatly benefit the Fort Gordon Community.  I’m hopeful that in the future our fitness centers will expand; particularly the locker rooms and the parking capacity, while still offering a wide variety of physical fitness programs for all levels of fitness.  I will always maintain that physical fitness is not only a cornerstone of military service, but a fundamental component of a healthy lifestyle, and I hope that Family & MWR continues to find ways to make this more available and comprehensive.

Q:  What are your future plans?

A:  I will relinquish command and then assume the duties as the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence, so I will be able to continue watching all the great things that Family & MWR does for the Service Members and Families of Fort Gordon. I will also be one of the beneficiaries of all the initiatives underway coming to fruition.

Q:  Are there any particularly favorite/funny memories from your time in command that you would like to share?

A:  Clearly a job like this involves dealing with a lot of “unknowns” and “contingency plans”.  There have been a myriad of those over the last few years that while not “funny” at the time, upon reflection you do have to get a kick out of watching “Murphy’s Law” hard at work.  Fortunately the Family & MWR staff, supported by the rest of the Garrison, always seemed to make it work and we could laugh about it afterwards.  The best memories generally involve people coming up to me thanking me for providing a service or instituting a program. that made a difference in their lives.  ACS does that on a DAILY basis, I just happen to be the one they thank.  I must admit, the Fort Gordon Run Series has brought me a lot of personal satisfaction; seeing a race with 1500 runners and being able to say to yourself “I wonder what these people would be doing this morning if it WASN’T for us”.  It’s pretty cool.

Q: Do you have any encouraging words or advice for the incoming commander?

A: Have a vision for where you want to go, communicate that to your leaders, and give them the latitude to figure out the how. About a month into my command, I wrote a list on one sheet of paper entitled “5 Big Things”. One of the “5 Big Things” was labeled “MWR Offerings”. Under it I listed “Soldiers/Families”, “Professionalize CYSS”, and “Profitability”. I kept that list on my wall the entire three years of command and now I can look back on that and say the Family & MWR Team worked incredibly hard to achieve that vision. I would also tell him to listen, and be engaged. Build relationships with the tenant leadership on the installation—that will go a long way to not only gaining an understanding of what Service Members WANT, but will also serve as a mechanism to communicate what is ACHIEVABLE.

Q: Is there anything you would like to share with the Fort Gordon Community?

A: It has been my distinct pleasure to manage the City of Fort Gordon on behalf of the 27,000 members who work and live here. These are incredible times on Fort Gordon, with incredible opportunities and some tough challenges to overcome. I look forward to continuing to watch the Fort Gordon community thrive in the months and years ahead. Thank you all for what you do for our city, and the Nation. TEAM GORDON!


turner_headshotCOL Todd Turner

COL Turner has a vast military career ranging from Brigade Assistant S-1, Aeroscout Platoon Leader (OH-58A/C) and Battalion S-4 to Chief, Strategic Initiatives Group, Cyber CoE. COL Turner has spent his 22 year career as a conventional and special operations aviator. Being a native Georgian, it is surprising his career has not brought him to Fort Gordon before. When asked about his time at Fort Gordon, COL Turner stated “…my family and I were extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to live and work on Fort Gordon for a year leading up to the change of command.”

Q: What attributes do you feel you will bring to your new position?

A: As far as I know, I will be the first non-Signal officer to serve as a Garrison Commander at Fort Gordon.

Q: How would you describe your leadership style?

A: My leadership style is primarily shaped by my upbringing [parents], commissioning source [West Point], and my life experience [22 years of active duty service]. These experiences have shaped who I am and what I stand for. My core values include family, faith, integrity, humility, and perseverance. I strive to live and lead by these core values each and every day.

Q: How do you see Family & MWR changing as Fort Gordon transitions to be the home of the Cyber Command? 

A: We will need to continuously assess the validity of current Family & MWR programs and the need for new Family & MWR programs as the demographics evolve over the next several years.

Q: Are there any immediate plans for change on the installation you can share with us?

A: I do not have any specific plans for change as it relates to Family & MWR, but I look forward to recommendations from the Fort Gordon Community as we move forward. Change is the only constant… We will need to continuously assess the validity of current Family & MWR programs and the need for new Family & MWR programs as the demographics evolve over the next several years.

Q: Do you consider Family & MWR to be pertinent to the ARMY Community? Why or why not?

A: I believe Family & MWR provides valuable services to our Soldiers and their family members.

Q: How do you perceive the role of Family & MWR in terms of the Army’s mission and the mission of Fort Gordon?

A: These services provide quality of life, enhance readiness, contribute to team building, and build esprit de corps across the Fort Gordon Military Community.

Q: Have you had interaction with Fort Gordon’s Family & MWR?

A: I have had significant interaction with Family & MWR since I arrived at Fort Gordon.

Q: What facilities and how was your experience?

A: Since arriving at Fort Gordon, my family have participated in many of the Family & MWR programs to include child care, child recreation, Christmas House, EFMP, dog park, recycling, the Gordon’s Conference and Catering Center, various restaurants, the golf course, riding stables, library, ITR, pools, fitness centers, Tactical Advantage Sportsman’s Complex, as well as hunting and fishing across the Fort Gordon training area.

Q: What are your hopes/goals for Fort Gordon Family & MWR?

A: Programs that are extremely profitable today, may not be so in the future and vice versa.  We must understand our customer and what they want in order to stay relevant and profitable.

Q: Do you have family with you that will utilize our facilities?

A: Yes, my family utilizes many of the facilities.

Q: Where do you see their time mostly being spent? 

A: My family spends most of their time in the pools, fitness facilities, dog park, riding stables, Gordon Lakes, TASC, and fishing ponds.

Q: Is there a message you would like to convey to the Fort Gordon Military Community?

A: I am extremely honored and humbled to serve the Fort Gordon Military Community in an unprecedented time of growth across the installation and local communities. Growth, coupled with a resource constrained environment, will present challenges, as well as opportunities over the next several years. I look forward to partnering with the Fort Gordon Military Community to meet and solve these challenges in order to optimize readiness and quality of life for our Soldiers and their families.


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About Crystal Tyson

Having served nine years active duty military, Crystal has always had a passion to serve those who serve! While becoming a wife and mother of four beautiful children, she was offered an opportunity to continue to do so. In her time with Family and MWR, Crystal has grown to absolutely love her job; it totally fits her outgoing, zany personality! This Chicago native looks forward to many more years to come with Family and MWR.

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