Gen. Mark A. Milley began his career as a 2nd lieutenant on Ardennes Street.
More than three decades later, he's returned to Fort Bragg as a four-star general to command the Army's largest organization.
Milley was welcomed as commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command on Friday.
He took the reins of the command, which is tasked with preparing U.S. soldiers for combat, from Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, the Army's next vice chief of staff.
Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Army Chief of Staff, presided over the ceremony outside Marshall Hall on Knox Street.
All three four-star generals spent parts of their early careers on Fort Bragg.
Odierno, who commanded two batteries and served as a battalion operations officer with the 18th Airborne Corps Artillery, said the visit was a special treat.
Fort Bragg is inspiring, he said, because of its mix of special operations forces, conventional forces, support troops and headquarters.
"This is the one place in the Army you get to see a total picture of what we are and who we are," he said.
Allyn and Milley served together in the 82nd Airborne Division, then commanded by Gen. James Lindsay.
Lindsay, now retired, also served as commander of the 18th Airborne Corps and the first commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.
Milley said Lindsay, who was in the audience for the ceremony, remains an inspiration and icon.
Milley served with the 82nd Airborne and then the 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg before continuing his career at other installations.
Most recently, Milley was commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood, Texas.
But he said Fort Bragg has always held a special place in his heart.
"It's here at Bragg that I fell into love with the two loves of my life," Milley said. "One is the U.S. Army, and the other is my wife, Hollyanne. I have nothing but great memories from Fort Bragg, and the Milley family is really excited to be back here."
Milley said he was "taken by considerable surprise" when Odierno informed him that he would be taking over Forces Command.
He'll have at least one familiar face in his new job. Forces Command's top enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Schroeder came to Fort Bragg from Fort Hood last month.
"I will give it all I have. I pledge to you my heart, my soul and my sacred honor for the United States Army and this command," Milley said. "I will live up to this honor."
Allyn, who welcomed Milley back to the "Center of the Universe," said that while Fort Bragg has changed, the warrior ethos and expeditionary spirit are as strong as ever.
He said Milley was a proven leader in combat and at home and was the right man to lead the team to the next level.
"I've heard the next Army vice is going to lean very hard on Forces Command," Allyn said.
Forces Command oversees more than 750,000 active, Reserve and National Guard soldiers preparing to serve for combatant commanders across the globe.
Odierno said the mission for the command is daunting, especially in the current climate.
"We're at a critical juncture in our nation's history," he said. "We are experiencing a time of fiscal constraints, worldwide uncertainty and the continuing evolution of warfare.
"Forces Command has and will play a crucial role in guiding our Army into the future," Odierno said. "All the challenges we face are significant. But true leaders lead dynamic change. Dan Allyn was one of those leaders, and Mark Milley is another one of those leaders."
Odierno said Milley has commanded every echelon and brings a wealth of experience, including leading troops in Afghanistan as a senior operations commander and leading Fort Hood through the travails of a tragic shooting in April.
Milley united that community and brought hope and reassurance to families, Odierno said, setting an example for leadership during difficult times.
After the ceremony, Milley said the April shooting was a real tragedy that speaks volumes to the resiliency of the force.
"The story is the resiliency of the entire community to withstand the trauma of an incident like that and bounce back," he said.