Family and friends gathered Sunday at the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith to celebrate the promotion of Col. Mark H. Berry to the rank of brigadier general.
Integrity, dedication and professionalism.
Those were a few of the words used to describe Berry at the ceremony.
Berry has served as Arkansas Air National Guard chief of staff since May, and he has more than 20 years of active-duty service and 15 years as an Air Reserve technician.
The new brigadier general got a standing ovation Sunday.
“My interest and my goals are to try to make the Arkansas National Guard a better force to support the citizens of the state of Arkansas,” Berry said.
The 188th could lose its A-10 mission in fiscal year 2013 when the unit is expected to convert to operating the unmanned Predator aircraft. Worried about the possible loss of hundreds of jobs to the area, there is an effort underway to keep the 188th's mission unchanged.
“We will be focusing our efforts on the 188th and their future,” Berry said Sunday. “They've been doing it for several months now, so I'll continue forward in working with them to ensure that we have a continued mission here at the 188th."
Berry enlisted back in August of 1974 and completed basic training in San Antonio. He says he never imagine he’d make it this far.
“I never thought I would have one or two stripes on my sleeve, and here it is, 38 years later that I’m a general officer,” he said. “It’s truly an honor and a blessing.”
Currently, the 188th is in the process of deploying hundreds of its airmen to Afghanistan.
Berry will be based at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock.