First Army's chief of staff retires with honor
July 7, 2014
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, IIl. -- A distinguished military career came to a close as First Army said farewell to its chief of staff.
After 32 years of service, Col. William J. Schafer retired at a ceremony attended by family and friends at First Army headquarters on July 3.
Lt. Gen. Michael S. Tucker, First Army's commanding general, praised Schafer for being a quiet, strong leader.
"First Army will be challenged to replace this superb officer," he said. "Colonel Schafer is a consummate professional and leader of Soldiers with two combat command tours…who has been reluctant to promote himself and his outstanding achievements throughout his illustrious career."
Schafer was awarded the Legion of Merit by Tucker for his sustained level of excellence including serving as a commander, 5TH Armored Brigade, First Army Division West at Fort Bliss, Texas; as deputy chief of staff for operations at First Army, and as chief of staff at First Army headquarters. Schafer has served continuously in First Army since 2009 and at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois since 2011.
Tucker also thanked Schafer's wife, Robin, for her dedication in helping the greater Army community.
"Robin, you will be missed by the First Army family," he said. "Your love and concern for Bill and our larger Army family over the past 30 years is noteworthy and also greatly appreciated."
Mrs. Schafer received a certificate of appreciation from the Chief of Staff of the Army.
During his remarks, Schafer thanked his wife, Robin, and his children for supporting his Army career. Members of Schafer's family and friends traveled from as far as Alabama, Maryland, and Oklahoma to attend the ceremony.
"I'm proud of 32 years of service and proud of what our Soldiers do for this nation," Schafer said. He also thanked the noncommissioned officers, Army officers, and Department of the Army civilians for their service to the nation.
When asked what is the biggest difference in the Army since his enlistment in 1982, Schafer said. "The education level and capability of our officer and noncommissioned officer corps has advanced tremendously."
Schafer had the unique experience of serving First Army three times in his Army career.
"Serving as a brigade commander provided experience with training our National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve. This practical experience provided perspective on the impact of policy on those that execute the training," he said. "The (operations) position provided experience with working with a three-star level staff. That experience allowed me to apply leadership to a professional, experienced and extremely capable senior level staff."
Schafer said his post retirement plans include spending more time with his family while starting a second career in an executive level position. First Army also provided Schafer with a farewell dinner that evening.
First Army mobilizes, trains, deploys and demobilizes all Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve forces throughout the continental United States, providing trained and ready forces for diverse missions worldwide. First Army is comprised of two divisions: First Army Division East, located at Fort Meade, Md., and First Army Division West, located at Fort Hood, Texas.