Margotta reminisces about tour as he prepares for change of command
June 14, 2010
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - The key to being a successful garrison commander is understanding and working within limitations of time, people and money.
"There is no shortage to the things that I think our Soldiers, families and our community deserve," said Col. Matthew Margotta, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.
"The challenging part is to balance out all those requirements to find out what is the most important thing at that particular time and try to do as much as you can with what you have."
Margotta recently discussed his tenure as garrison commander prior to his change of command ceremony, here, Monday, where he will relinquish command to Col. Douglas Mulbury.
For the past three years, Margotta has overseen support and service functions on five major installations and 17 sub-installations and housing areas on Oahu and Hawaii.
He has visited all of the Oahu installations every two weeks and Hawaii every couple of months, he said. Added up, the garrison and its training areas encompasses 197,450 acres.
With such a large footprint, he has relied on subordinate command teams, staff, employees and customers to be his "eyes and ears."
"The community is your community," he said. "We want to know how we can make the quality of life for our Soldiers, family and community better."
Making the garrison better can range from filling potholes on garrison roads, to ensuring premier customer service at service and support facilities, to his and his command team pulling gate guard duty at housing areas.
Improving the quality of life for the garrison's Soldiers and families was Margotta's top priority when he took command.
"I've been on the other side of the fence, where I've experienced deployment, redeployment and deployment again and to be separated from my family. I've experienced the anxiety wondering who is taking care of my family when I'm gone.
"I know what it's like to have a limited amount of time together as a family and be back in a garrison environment," he continued.
"We need to do everything we can to make life in the garrison as positive and as rewarding and as beneficial to the family wellness aspect as we can. That's our charge."
Another top priority as garrison commander was to turn the garrison into an "A Team."
"I think that everyone wants to feel that they belong to something a little bit greater than themselves, he said.
"Everyone wants to be part of an organization that has a special charter, which I think we do. People move out as a team, they think as a team," he added.
"And that goes a long way in creating the atmosphere that I'm talking about," Margotta said.
To help turn the garrison into an A Team, Margotta instituted a code of conduct and the Hawaii Garrison University last October.
The university focused on "building leaders, serving Soldiers," while the code of conduct stressed the "Three P's of Customer Service:" be Professional, Polite and Positive."
"I think we do that better here in Hawaii than anywhere else," he said. "I've had the pleasure and the opportunity to serve this community for three years. I think we've made things a little bit better.
"The garrison may not be perfect," the colonel added, "but we've made some great strides, such as providing premier customer service. I've thoroughly enjoyed serving the community."
He said he's looking forward to his new assignment as deputy commander/chief of staff at the Family Service Center at the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
"One thing I hope to bring when I go to FMWR Command is an understanding of what life is like at the grassroots level, what our Soldiers and families truly need from FMWR Command and the Army," said Margotta. "We talk a lot about taking care of our Soldiers and families, resiliency, wellness."
He said that while the Army offers a multitude of programs to its Soldiers and families, those programs are exactly what those Soldiers and families need.
"Having served the garrison's Soldiers and families for three years at the installation level, I want to take that experience to the FMWR headquarters and have a different perspective," he said.
"You can't forget what we're asking the Soldiers and families to do. The hard part is that after eight-and-a-half years of doing deployments and redeployments, I think you lose sight of how difficult that lifestyle is. It becomes the norm," Margotta explained.