NEWS | Sept. 2, 2021

Oklahoma’s 63rd Civil Support Team bids farewell to company commander, welcome a new leader

By Sgt. 1st Class Mireille Merilice Oklahoma National Guard

Oklahoma National Guardsmen, first-response community partners and family members gathered to bid farewell to the 63rd Civil Support Team’s outgoing commander and welcomed their incoming commander during a change of command ceremony at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, Sept. 1, 2021.

Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the 63rd CST honored outgoing commander Lt. Col. Carl Bennett and welcomed incoming commander Maj. Barrett Alexander under the Survivor Tree, a living symbol of resilience to terrorist threats that helped craft the formation of the CST program.

“It may seem alien to some to imagine a world without the threats we face today, but we should internalize the roots of the cause so that we may never become complacent,” Bennett, said. “The 63rd CST is forever tied to this place, [referring to the ceremony’s location].”

Bennett encouraged members of the CST to hold each other accountable and to be ready for the, “likely and the worst.” He then directed his speech to highlighting Alexander on his leadership qualities and success.

“[Upon meeting him] it was immediately clear that he [Alexander] had the confidence and leadership qualities to one day lead the team as [the] commander,” Bennett said. “No one is more qualified or ready for the job. Team, you are in great hands and there is no doubt that Major Alexander will take the 63rd CST to new heights and increased success.”

Bennett enlisted as an active duty cannon crew member in 1991. He later transitioned to the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 1993 as a medical supply sergeant before commissioning as a Medical Corps officer in 1999.

Bennett holds a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and physics from Cameron University, a Masters of Strategic Studies from the Army War College, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Oklahoma State University. He was also Research Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

According to Alexander, he has looked forward to taking command for many years, having served with the CST multiple times throughout his military career.

“It’s been a great honor to work and learn from [Bennett],” Alexander said. “I look forward to taking the things I’ve learned from him and continuing the success of the CST.”

Find more photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/oklanationalguard/albums/72157719772463646.