Hohenfels bids fond farewell to Quarles
March 21, 2012
BERATZHAUSEN, Germany -- Community members and far-flung friends gathered here to bid farewell to Lt. Col. Kevin J. Quarles, outgoing U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels commander, at a laugh-filled 'roast' held at the Landgasthof Pension Schnaus, Feb. 24.
Colleagues and co-workers took turns poking good-natured fun at various escapades during the commander's time at Hohenfels.
"When I first met Lt. Col. Quarles, we realized we had the same passion in hunting," related Norbert Wittl, Hohenfels public affairs officer. "He noticed I had this basket mounted on my car's trailer hitch. 'Norbert, this is good for game carrying,' he said. I said, 'No, sir, this is not for hunting, it's to carry the mother-in-law.' Lt. Col. Quarles thought for a moment and said, 'Can you get me a two-seater?'"
John Cavanaugh, interim garrison manager at USAG Garmish, shared a poem he penned to the rhythm of "'Twas the Night before Christmas." Accompanied by a slide show which featured Quarles photo-shopped in various silly situations, Cavanaugh's presentation left the audience howling with laughter.
"You've been a great mentor to me, and gave me some great opportunities," Cavanaugh told Quarles in a more serious moment.
Hunting provided a common theme for many of the jokes, but speakers did not limit themselves.
Sgt. Maj. Martin S. Celestine shared a story of running a 10K race against Quarles about one week after seeing the commander limping around in a knee brace after surgery.
"I told my friend, if he beats me, I'll kill myself," Celestine said. "About seven kilometers into it … I figured sometimes it's OK to go back on your word. Thanks for teaching me a little humility, sir."
Celestine also read a comment from Lt. Col. Mitchell O. Watkins, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment commander.
"Before I eulogize Lt. Col. Quarles," Watkins wrote, "I will walk a mile in his shoes. That way if he gets angry, I'm a mile away, and he's barefoot with reconstructive knee surgery. Actually, I'd rather not walk a mile in his shoes, because if I did, I'd have to wake up earlier, work harder … and basically be more squared away."
The Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security team contributed a video lampooning a "Day in the Life of Lt. Col. Quarles," which involved his staff dancing around the conference room and a pizza-ordering pig. Maybe you had to be there, but it left the crowd roaring.
Among the laughs, various departments presented Quarles and his wife, Amy, with remembrances including plaques, T-shirts and stress balls.
Kathy Aydt, USAG Grafenwoehr deputy commander, said she was especially excited to attend the festivities when she learned the theme of the evening would be a roast.
"They're going to roast him, so we're going to see some dirt," she said, laughing. "But what you showed us tonight is how much love you really have for him. You validated everything we ever thought about Lt. Col. Quarles and Amy … They are awesome, and he is an inspired leader."
Quarles said he had intended joining in the spirit of the night and cracking a few jokes, but was ultimately overwhelmed by the large attendance and the amazing expressions of appreciation.
"One of the things that makes this community so special, I believe, is that we are a tight-knit family, and friends don't fail friends, period," Quarles said. "I am incredibly proud to have been a part of your team. In my heart … there is no greater honor than to be able to serve this community."
"You are touching lives; you are absolutely making a difference. You make magic happen."