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    Major Gen. Thomas Spencer takes charge of National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division

    New Commander for 42nd Infantry Division

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Trevor Cullen | New York Army National Guard Major General Steven Ferrari, left, the former commander...... read more read more



    Story by Maj. Jean Kratzer 

    New York National Guard

    LATHAM, New York-- New York Army National Guard Major General Thomas Spencer, a veteran of the Iraq War and Operation Desert Storm, took command of the Troy, New York- based 42nd Infantry Division during a change of command ceremony held on April 17, 2021 at New York National Guard headquarters in Latham, N.Y.

    Spencer, a resident of York Maine, has been serving as the Assistant Deputy Commander for Sustainment for the 42nd Infantry Division since 2018. This included a deployment to the Middle East in 2020.

    The 42nd Infantry Division is one of eight National Guard division headquarters.

    Spencer replaces Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Steven Ferrari who is retiring after 40 years of service in the military. Ferrari took command of the division in February of 2017.

    "Tom, you have a critical job ahead, leading one of the Army's 18 divisions. We all know that you are the right leader for this huge responsibility," said Maj. Gen. Raymond Shields, the Adjutant General of the New York National Guard.

    The 42nd Infantry Division, with headquarters in Troy, N.Y., has 20,000 Soldiers assigned to elements in New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New Hampshire. The ceremony was held at New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs Headquarters in Latham, New York.

    The 42nd Infantry Division was first organized in World War I by National Guard forces from across the United States.

    The division's first chief-of-staff, then Col. Douglas MacArthur, said the division would stretch across the United States "like a rainbow". Since World War I the division has been nicknamed “The Rainbow Division” and its patch is a rainbow.

    The division liberated the Dachau Concentration Camp in World War II and deployed to Iraq in 2005. It was the first National Guard division to see combat since the Korean War.
    In his remarks, Spencer promised his audience, both in the headquarters building and watching on video, that he would ensure that the division’s standards never falter.

    "Soldiers of the 42nd Infantry Division, you have my commitment that our Soldiers are the highest priority," Spencer told the audience. "We will deliver Soldiers and units to the fight that are prepared and ready, and we will lead with optimism, sensitivity, and being risk adaptive."

    "We will take reasonable risks because we will accept the 80% or 90% solution versus striving for perfection," he said.

    "I am truly humbled to have the opportunity to command such a great organization with such a historical past," Spencer said.

    Due to COVID-19 restrictions only a small number of people watched the change of command ceremony. The event was livestreamed.

    During the ceremony, the flag, or colors, of the 42nd Infantry Division was transferred from Ferrari to Spencer by Shields, symbolizing the transfer of authority for the men and women of the division.

    The change of command ceremony also featured the colors of the brigades which fall under the 42nd Infantry Division for training purposes.

    Ferrari, who was recognized with the Order of St. Maurice, which represents outstanding service to the infantry community, the New York State Conspicuous Service Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal.

    Shields praised Ferrari for his leadership of the 42nd Division during its 2020 deployment to provide command and control of Task Force Spartan, a 10,000- Soldier Army force in the Middle East.

    "While deployed, Steve and his leadership represented the Army National Guard and the entire Northeast partners in an outstanding fashion," Shields said.
    In his remarks, Ferrari emphasized that that Soldiers cannot do it alone, they depend on their loved ones.

    "The strength of the Soldiers in the division without a doubt comes from our families. They are the bedrock and the reason we serve, "Ferrari said.

    He also emphasized how proud he was to be part of the 42nd Division.

    "As we part ways today, I could not have scripted a better ending to my 40 years in the military and know that my time spent here was without a doubt the highlight of my career," he added.

    Spencer has served in numerous leadership and staff positions in his 34-year career as an officer in the Army National Guard since being commissioned through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps in 1987.

    He is a veteran of Operation Desert Shield - Desert Storm where he served as Platoon Leader in the 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery from September 1990 to March 1991
    As a company commander in the 4th Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment he served as part of Operation Restore Hope, in Mogadishu, Somalia from December 1993 to March 1994.
    He served as assistant Division Aviation Officer for the 1st Armored Division in Bosnia from December 1995 – December 1996. He served in Iraq from January 2004 to January 2005 as the Operations Officer of the 197th Field Artillery Brigade.

    Spencer holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Southern Maine in Political Science and a Masters in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.

    His military education includes the Army Artillery Officer Basic and Aviation Advanced courses, Army Command and General Staff College, Army War College, and Army Strategic Education Program-Basic.

    Spencer's awards include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Army Superior Unit Award, the National Defense Service Medal, the South West Asia Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, the Kuwait Liberation Medal, the Army Aviator Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.

    In civilian life, Spencer is a Pharmaceutical Sales Manager; for Astellas Urological in New England and eastern New York.



    Date Taken: 04.17.2021
    Date Posted: 04.19.2021 15:23
    Story ID: 394200
    Location: LATHAM, NY, US 

    Web Views: 539
    Downloads: 0