Local officials welcome new Fort Jackson leaders to Midlands

Lexington Mayor Randy Halfacre and Susan McPherson (center) welcomes Fort Jackson's new commander Brig. Gen. Bradley Becker and his wife Sherri (right) and SSI commander Col. Paul Chamberlain and his wife Lara (left) to the Midlands. Photo by Rachel Ham.

Lexington Mayor Randy Halfacre and Susan McPherson (center) welcome Fort Jackson’s new commander Brig. Gen. Bradley Becker and his wife, Sherri (right), and SSI commander Col. Paul Chamberlain and his wife, Lara (left), to the Midlands. (photo by Rachel Ham)

Political, municipal and business leaders from across the Midlands gathered Tuesday morning to welcome Fort Jackson’s latest leaders.

Three weeks after his induction as Fort Jackson’s 46th commanding general, Brig. Gen. Bradley A. Becker was surrounded by well-wishers in Lexington as the town hosted a breakfast to allow local stakeholders to meet him personally. Joining Becker was Col. Paul Chamberlain, commander of Soldier Support Institute; Becker’s wife, Sherri; and Chamberlain’s wife, Lara. Chaplain Lt. Col. David Crary and members of the training center’s command staff also joined the celebration.

“It’s truly an honor to welcome you to Fort Jackson,” said Lexington Mayor Randy Halfacre.

A diverse group of people – including Lexington County Council Chairman Bill Banning and American Red Cross Central S.C. Chapter Executive Director Bill Cronin – lined up to shake Becker’s hand, demonstrating the broad impact the military base has on the Midlands, from housing to education to retail. Halfacre said it is estimated that $2.6 billion annually is pumped into the local economy because of the base.

Halfacre was quick to boast that civilian residents long have recognized Fort Jackson’s importance and commended them for not hesitating to show their support for the soldiers and their families.

“This is the most military-friendly community in the world,” he said.

Chamberlain, who took over command of the SSI in August, agreed with that sentiment.

“I can attest to that,” he said. “I truly appreciate what you’ve done for Fort Jackson and the soldiers and look forward to working with you all.”

After time spent on multiple overseas deployments, Becker said he is thrilled to have his family in a place where they’ve already experienced that hospitality.

“We’re glad to be a part of it,” he said.

Becker thanked the crowd for their part in creating a welcoming atmosphere for the military personnel now under his leadership, especially those in training far away from their homes.

“I’m glad our soldiers can experience life here because it won’t always be like this for them,” he said.

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