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The Mountaineer Online

Fort Drum community honors departing leader with military tattoo

Col. David Clark and his wife Karen kick up their heels during their special song selection. Photo by Master Sgt. Tami Hillis
Col. David Clark and his wife Karen kick up their heels during their special song selection. Photo by Master Sgt. Tami Hillis

Master Sgt. Tami Hillis

10th Mountain Division PAO NCOIC

Nine Fort Drum senior leaders received a farewell salute during a tattoo ceremony June 24 in Memorial Park.
Officers departing the Fort Drum command team ranks are Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, deputy commanding general for operations, and his wife, Laura; Brig. Gen. Jefforey Smith, deputy commanding general for support, and his wife, Starla; Col. David Clark, deputy commander for Title 10, and his wife, Karen; Col. Bonita Pruitt, U.S. Army Dental Activity commander, and her husband, Lt. Col. Ken Pruitt; Col. Jerome Penner III, U.S. Army Medical Department Activity commander, and his wife, Jamie; Col. Glenn Goldman, division fires support and effects coordinator, and his wife, Renate; Chaplain (Col.) James White, installation chaplain, and his wife, Leta; Col. Jay Flowers, assistant chief of staff, G3, and his wife, Anne; and Col. Eric Hesse, inspector general, and his wife, Lisa.
“I obviously love my Soldiers, and I believe that the secret to the success of the United States Army is its Noncommissioned Officer Corps, but I also have to tell you that these officers that we are farewelling tonight are my right arm,” said Maj. Gen. Mike Oates, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander. “Both Barbara and I feel that way because of the support that they and their spouses have given us. I am going to miss all of them.”
The original meaning of a military tattoo is a military drum performance, but nowadays it sometimes means army displays more generally. It dates from the 17th century when the British army was fighting Belgium and The Netherlands. Drummers from the garrison were sent out into the towns each evening at 9:30 to inform the soldiers that it was time to return to the barracks. The process was known as “doe den tap toe,” Dutch for "turn off the tap,” an instruction to the barkeeps to stop serving beer and to send the soldiers home for the night. The drummers continued to play until the 10 p.m. curfew.
This drunken stumble back to their barracks was transformed, over the years, into the use of military exercises by Soldiers as evening entertainment.
The 10th Mountain Division Band provided the entertainment for the military tattoo, performing one special song for each outgoing officer. Song selections ranged from “Ode to Joy” to “Higher” to “You’ve Got a Friend.”
Following each musical selection, outgoing leaders were given an opportunity to say farewell to their comrades and friends.
The first honoree for the evening was Buchanan, who selected “Ode to Joy.” His next assignment is the G3/5/7 at the U.S. Army Reserve Command Office of the Chief of Staff at Fort McPherson, Ga.
“I would like to thank you for helping make northern New York, Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division our home and our Family’s home for the past two years,” Buchanan said. “We’ll never forget it.”
“Higher” was the next musical selection for Smith, whose next assignment is the deputy director for Political-Military Affairs (Middle East) J5, the Joint Staff, Washington, D.C.
“You have taken us to a higher place,” Smith said. “We have a debt of gratitude to the local community, to the whole North Country family up here, and we’ve never been a part of such a great organization as what we’ve experienced here at Fort Drum.”
The next selection was “Jump, Jive and Wail” for Clark, who had his wife swinging to the music moments after the music began.
“It’s not a farewell for us, because we’re staying right here, but it’s a little bit of a farewell to the Army, because we are retiring,” Clark said. “And the Army has just been great to us, just as this North Country has been great to us. We moved 13 times in that 28 years, and we had a lot of chance to see a lot of places and a lot of treasures; but we really feel that here in the North Country we’ve found the pot at the end of the rainbow.”
“Colour My World” was the next selection for Pruitt, whose next assignment will be the chief pediatric dentistry at Fort Campbell, Ky.
“About 37 years ago a young specialist and a captain in the advanced course danced their first dance to that song, and now it’s only fitting: the North Country has colored our world,” Pruitt said. “You have given Ken a chance of a lifetime to become a Soldier again, and you’ve definitely colored my world. I don’t think I will ever forget the snow … we’re looking forward to going down South.”
Next was the “Theme from MASH” for Penner, who will be the commander at Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis, Wash.
“It’s been 27 years with all of our assignments, and this has been the absolute No. 1 assignment we’ve ever had; you’ve made it special,” he said. “Thanks for allowing us to be part of your hearts, part of your community.”
The next selection was “Don’t Stop Believin’” for Goldman, who will take over as brigade commander for the 2nd ROTC Command, N.E. Region Headquarters at Fort Dix, N.J.
“‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ is kind of a special song for us because Renate has never stopped believing in me, and I’ve never stopped believing in her, and we believe in what we do,” Goldman said. “It’s been a pleasure and an honor and our privilege to Soldier all these years.”
“You Got a Friend” was the next selection for White, who will become the V Corps chaplain in Heidelberg, Germany.
“Many of us have woke up excited on Christmas morning and looked under the tree and seen all kinds of gifts there,” White recalled. “As a child, you picked out the ones you thought were the most important or the ones you’d enjoy the most and you tore into them. And after getting all through them and you get to the last couple of gifts that you don’t think is much, but they are the surprises. Well, after 28 years in the military, I know there are very few packages left under the tree, and this is one of them … to come to Fort Drum and to serve here.”
Flower’s selection was “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe.” His next assignment will be the commander of 191st Infantry Brigade at Fort Lewis.
“I hope that song holds for the 3,000 miles with one truck, two dogs, two cats and two girls,” Flower said with a laugh. “It’s going to be a long trip. This is our second tour to Fort Drum, and Anne and I discussed that both times we have left with a tear in our eye, and there are a couple of reasons why. One is the absolute great support from the Fort Drum community, and the other one is the great Soldiers in this great division, and when you combine those two variables you get the greatest division in the Army.”
The final selection for the evening was “Brown Eyed Girl” for Hesse, whose next assignment will be the inspector general for the New York Army National Guard in Albany.
“When I got here 10 years ago as a major, I figured like every other (assignment), two years and I’d be gone, and there were times I didn’t think I would make it the two years,” he said. “And now, 10 years later, I can’t believe we are actually leaving. It has truly been a great division.”

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