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Change of command ceremony brings new commander to Fort Wainwright

Colonel Chris Ruga passes the organization colors to Colonel Nate Surrey in a change of command...
Colonel Chris Ruga passes the organization colors to Colonel Nate Surrey in a change of command ceremony on Fort Wainwright. Surrey is the new commander of the post.(John Dougherty/KTVF)
Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 4:54 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Thursday, Fort Wainwright welcomed a new commander to the post. Colonel Nate Surrey took the title of U.S. Army Garrison Alaska Commander from the previous commander Colonel Chris Ruga during a change of command ceremony. Ruga had served as the commander for two years prior to Surrey taking the position.

This isn’t Surrey’s first time to be stationed at Wainwright. In 2000 he was transferred to the post as a lieutenant flying Blackhawk helicopters. While stationed in Fairbanks he met his now-wife, Alicia, who was also a lieutenant in the Army. He ended up marrying her and she joins him back for this assignment.

Surrey said that ever since he left the city in 2003 he has wanted to return. “Made it back here 18 years later, we have always wanted to come back, just the opportunity didn’t arise at the time. But it finally did and we couldn’t be more blessed.”

He went on to say that he considers Alaska home, having maintained residency in the state for 21 years, adding that they intend to stay that way.

While Ruga was the commander, he oversaw many projects to improve the quality of life on the post, as well as make the soldiers stationed there better fighters. Surrey said he wants to continue that mission. “My number one goal is to continue to press forward the momentum that he started, and then as we implement the arctic strategy, as that becomes more finite and we kind neck it down to actually what we are going to do, my goal is to give my 100% effort to support that.”

At the ceremony members of the military and Fairbanks community watched as Col. Ruga passed the organizational colors to Surrey to signify his new role.

Surrey said that he plans to continue the relationship Wainwright has with the Fairbanks community. He said the community is what made him want to come back. “That is truly why I wanted to come back here because the people here are truly amazing. Whether you have military experience or not, you have supported us up since we hit the ground from the very beginning.”

Surrey and his family arrived in Fairbanks in early July and he spent the last two weeks working with Col. Ruga to transition into his new position. Surrey’s wife took over as the deputy commander for nursing at Bassett Army Community Hospital.

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