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Maj.Gen. Mark McDonald, whose change of command ceremony is scheduled for 9 a.m.Tuesday on the Old Post Quadrangle, has weathered good times and bad as commanding general of Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence, but he leaves the post with a bright future ahead.

McDonald gives credit to team

“This is the job of my life, right here. And Connie and I have had the time of our lives, and we have loved every minute of it.” MAJ. GEN.MARK MCDONALD

Oct. 1, 2013, is not a day Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald cares to remember, but his actions in that time of crisis illustrate perfectly why he's leaving Fort Sill in the best shape it's ever been.

Due to Congress' failure to reach a budget agreement, the federal government shut down that day. The commanding general of Fort Sill and the Fires Center of Excellence had the unenviable task of telling more than 2,200 civilian employees  civilians who in many instances had worked holidays and weekends supporting the deployment or redeployment of troops  that they could not report to work. They would not be paid until Congress acted, so they had no money coming in. And because they technically still had jobs, they could not file for unemployment.

Thanks to last-minute legislation passed with the help of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, military personnel were able to continue working and get paid. Approximately 20 percent of the civilian jobs were excepted from the furlough, so Reynolds Army Community Hospital and the Directorate of Emergency Services were able to keep going. Employees working under pre-paid contracts and those paid by non-appropriated funds were also able to stay on the job. But four-fifths of the civilian workforce was abruptly idled.

McDonald's quick response kept a dire situation from becoming worse. He called a press conference on day one so that the media could alert landlords, business owners and bill collectors to be patient. In some cases, soldiers were tasked to do jobs that were normally performed by civilians. Some from Strategic Communications (STRATCOM) did the work of the Public Affairs Office, and public affairs officers from the brigades put out The Cannoneer during the two-week furlough.

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