Fort Bragg's JFK Special Warfare Center gets new commander
The U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School welcomed a new leader Friday.
It was a day of mixed emotions, said Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, head of U.S. Army Special Operations Command. But it was also a familiar day.
That's because the change of command ceremony on Fort Bragg's JFK Plaza was the third for the school in less than two years.
Cleveland said the school was "well-rehearsed" for the event when he welcomed Brig. Gen. Eric P. Wendt.
Wendt replaced Brig. Gen. David G. Fox, who replaced Maj. Gen. Edward M. Reeder Jr. in November.
Reeder was called away from the school to lead special operations forces in Afghanistan, officials said at the time. Fox is leaving for a different reason - he's set to retire this year after a 34-year Army career.
Now Wendt is charged with leading what Cleveland called a "unique and indispensable" command.
The Special Warfare Center and School trains the Army's Special Forces, civil affairs and psychological operations soldiers and provides continuing education for special operators from across the services.
It currently has 5,000 students spread across 55 courses, with most at Fort Bragg and others in Yuma, Arizona, Key West, Florida or in the mountains of North Carolina, officials said.
"Brig. Gen. Eric Wendt is the right man for the job," Cleveland said, praising Wendt's efforts in his last role as commander of Special Operations Command - Korea.
He also praised Fox and presented the general and his wife - Hope Mills native Lynn Waring Fox - with awards and tokens of appreciation.
"David Fox is a soldier's soldier. A Green Beret's Green Beret," Cleveland said. "He spent the last 34 years fighting where he was told and winning where he fought."
While brief, Fox's tenure was successful in that he overcame severe obstacles related to budget constraints at a time when the mission grew, Cleveland said.
He said the school picked up a significant part of the check for Special Operations Command when money needed to be saved. And added that Army Training and Doctrine Command was willing to take over the school - eliciting laughs from the audience.
Wendt, meanwhile, said in his brief remarks that he was honored to take command of the Special Warfare Center and School.
"I'll do my best to be worthy of such a superb command," he said.
Fox said the school was the "crown jewel" of the special operations community and noted that the only day off the school has is on Christmas day.
"The op tempo in this school is extremely high," he said.
Marking the "twilight of our time in the Army," Fox thanked those in the school for their counsel, mentorship and humor.
Fox previously served as a deputy commander at the school. He also served in the 5th Special Forces Group when it was based at Fort Bragg and was an instructor at the Special Warfare Center and School before serving in the 3rd Special Forces Group and U.S. Army Special Operations Command, both at Fort Bragg.
Fox's awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Purple Heart Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with six oak-leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with oak-leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Multinational Force and Observer Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Army Superior Unit Award, Combat Infantryman's Badge, Master Parachutist Wings and the Special Forces Tab.