Col. Johnny K. Davis, a commander hard-pressed to pass a group of Soldiers without shaking their hands, waved good-bye a final time to the Soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) last week.
The regiment’s 80th Commander, Davis relinquished command of the Army’s oldest active infantry regiment to Col. Jason T. Garkey in a ceremony June 16 on Summerall Field on the Fort Myer portion of Joint Base Myer- Henderson Hall.
Garkey replaces outgoing commander Davis, who has served as commander since June 18, 2014.
After the passing of colors from the outgoing commander to the incoming, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington Commander Maj. Gen. Bradley A. Becker explained how Davis’ demeanor made him a natural fit as The Old Guard’s commander.
“The Old Guard is the face of the Army in the National Capital Region, and often the face of our nation to the world,” said Becker. “As such, the Soldiers of the 3d United States Infantry Regiment represent the dedication and professionalism of our entire Army. And with that tremendously important strategic responsibility, we have been blessed to have Col. Johnny Davis as our Army ambassador for these last two years. You will not find a more professional, upbeat, positive, selfless servant than Col. Johnny Davis.”
Becker also spoke about Garkey, noting that his most recent assignment is his third time with The Old Guard. In the late 1990s, Garkey served as a platoon leader in Charlie Company and later as commander of Honor Guard Company. Garkey has also been deployed to Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
“And while we bid farewell to one great leader, we welcome another one,” said Becker. “Col. Jason Garkey is an experienced infantryman with a great reputation.”
Originally from Eureka, Illinois, Garkey graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1993.
Davis, who has led U.S. presidents, foreign dignitaries, and military retirees in a multitude of ceremonial reviews in front of The Old Guard and The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” on Summerall Field, addressed the unit a final time during last week’s ceremony.
“To the Soldiers of The Old Guard: I’d like to say, ‘thank you,’” said Davis in his farewell address. “Thank you for your service, your dedication, and motivation.”
Davis’ tenure with The Old Guard will be remembered for his emphasis on the individual Soldier, according to Maj. Russell H. Fox, officer-in-charge of the regiment’s Public Affairs Office.
“He’s probably the best commander I’ve served with at breaking down those barriers,” said Fox. “His ability to interact at the personal level is a testament to his character and way of caring for Soldiers.”
The regiment’s Soldiers are leaders who will guide America’s Army into the future, said Davis.
“Whereas other units in the Army may sometimes interact with the local population, Soldiers of The Old Guard routinely interact and perform for the American people and the world,” he said. “Among these fine Soldiers standing before you are the next generation of leaders that will lead America’s Army into the future.
“I cannot describe to you how much I deeply care about each and every one of these Soldiers,” said Davis. “It has been my honor to serve The Old Guard. It has been an honor to get to know each and every one of you, and my time at The Old Guard has been the highlight of my career.”
Davis’ next assignment will be as the executive officer to U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Vincent K. Brooks.