Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lieutenant General Wilson retires after 37 years

Photo by Adam Skoczylas
Lt. Gen. Robert Wilson kisses his wife, Lynn, during his retirement ceremony at Conmy Hall Monday. The couple spent more than 37 years serving the nation.
A career that began in 1972, and rose to the top of the Army’s Installation Management Command ended Monday at Fort Myer’s Conmy Hall, moments after the reins of IMCOM were handed over.

Lt. Gen. Robert Wilson served as the first commanding general of IMCOM, as well as the assistant chief of staff for Installation Management since 2006.

Members of the U.S. Army Band ‘‘Pershing’s Own” and the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) participated in the ceremony, which occurred jointly with the IMCOM change of command.

At the start of the ceremony, Staff Sgt. Ronald White, IMCOM’s NCO of the Year, presented flowers to Wilson’s wife Lynn and the Presidential Salute Battery fired 15 rounds to pay tribute to the departing three-star general.

Col. David Anders, regimental commander of The Old Guard and commander of troops for the ceremony, took Wilson on a final inspection of the troops before command was changed.

After handing over command to Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, Wilson was presented with the Distinguished Service Medal and an American flag that had flown over many locations where Wilson served, including the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam, a base in southern Iraq, his alma mater Indiana University, Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Riley, Kansas, the Pentagon and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.

Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, served as host for the ceremony, and he spoke of Wilson as a Soldier whose career was ‘‘remarkable in breadth and depth.”

‘‘As our first IMCOM commander, Bob established a lasting legacy of service to our Soldiers, Families and civilians. He focused on the all important human dimension of our transformation, while leading an organization has played an indispensible role in sustaining our Army.”

Casey also recognized the ‘‘team” of Robert and Lynn Wilson, who have worked throughout the last four decades to make things better for Soldiers and Families.

‘‘We’re here to bid farewell to a great Army Family, and to honor the service of one of our greatest command teams, Bob and Lynn,” Casey said. ‘‘We pay tribute today to their leadership and their absolute commitment to Soldiers and Families, a commitment made and delivered on for more than 37 years.”

Casey also mentioned the key role Wilson had in creating the Army Family Covenant, which ‘‘provides a quality of life for our Soldiers and Families and civilians as commensurate with the quality of their service.”

When Wilson took the stage, he took the time to thank numerous Soldiers, some active, some retired, who’ve played a part in his decades of service. He called it a privilege to have served in his position for the last three years.

‘‘It has been a privilege to be the ACSIM and IMCOM commander and lead this magnificent organization for the last three years,” Wilson said. ‘‘IMCOM is a great command, consisting of great people who make a difference every day.”

He spoke of the differences between the Army of then and the Army of now. He mentioned how when he was wounded in Vietnam, no one called his wife to inform her, she had to find out when he sent her a letter from a hospital in Okinawa.

He also mentioned the development of the Army Family Action Plan, which has changed throughout the years as more policies are enacted to better the lives of Army Families.

‘‘For years, the top AFAP issues were Family, medical and dental care, Family housing, child care, commissaries and spouse employment,” Wilson said. ‘‘We don’t see those as top issues today. That is a testament to the Army’s commitment to Soldiers and their Families. The Army listens and acts to ensure that Army Families are well taken care of.”

As for the changes that Wilson has witnessed throughout his more than 37-year career, Casey summed it up best when he spoke about the lofty responsibility held by the lieutenant general, and the singular vision that made his tenure a successful one.

‘‘Despite the staggering scope of his responsibility, Bob never lost sight of the bottom line: sustaining our Soldiers and Families, the heart and soul of this force,” Casey said.