Retreat honors departing general
June 28, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla.-- Farewells reached a crescendo June 23 when the Lawton-Fort Sill community honored Brig. Gen. Daniel Karbler at a retreat ceremony in front of McNair Hall on Fort Sill.
Karbler, Air Defense Artillery School commandant and chief of ADA, and his family said aloha as they are bound for Hawaii. He will become commanding general of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command at Fort Shafter.
Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, officiated the ceremony noting how good it sounded to refer to Karbler as brigadier general.
"Thanks for coming out to honor a great Fires leader and an incredible family," he said. "It's never easy to bid farewell to our great Soldiers, leaders and families, but we understand that change fosters versatility and is part of what makes our Army strong."
All the trappings of tradition were in evidence at the ceremony. The 77th U.S. Army Band with Costello's Own bagpipers played prior to and throughout the ceremony and the Fort Sill Salute Battery, B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery punctuated the honors with an artillery salute. Despite the lack of a breeze, the nation's and Army's colors looked resplendent in the hands of a color guard comprised of Soldiers and Marines from the 434th FA and the 31st ADA brigades, and the U.S. Marine Corps Artillery Detachment.
But Karbler added a nuance likely never before witnessed at such an occasion. With baton in hand, he conducted the band prior to the ceremony in what proved to be a fitting departure for a maestro performance of his impact at Fort Sill.
The Karbler concerto began in July 2008 when he arrived as the first Forces Command ADA commander at Fort Sill leading the 31st ADA Brigade up from Fort Bliss, Texas. McDonald said Karbler, "displayed the talents that reside throughout the air defense community."
The second movement introduced Karbler to a larger ensemble as he became the FCoE and Fort Sill chief of staff. McDonald said Karbler's ability to understand and balance the priorities of both air defense and field artillery made it clear he was the right person for the position.
His most recent duties as the ADA School commandant and chief of ADA formed the finale to his four years at Fort Sill.
"General Karbler's departure is particularly difficult because he's meant so much to this installation," said McDonald. "The Fires Center is losing a great officer, but we are thrilled to know that the Soldiers of the 94th Air and Missile Defense Command will benefit from his visionary leadership."
The encores for Karbler's performance at Fort Sill arrived in waves. June 14 during a frocking ceremony at the Old Post Quadrangle he replaced the silver eagle that adorned his uniform for the lone silver star that heralded his arrival to general officer status. McDonald commended Karbler on his arrival into the lofty circles of Army leadership, though he joked Karbler may want to put away the star that has since graced his pajamas.
"The Army again is recognizing the leadership, professionalism and potential of this great officer. In just a few weeks he will assume command once again but this time as a commanding general. Dan, congratulations on this opportunity to impact our Soldiers, you're the right person to do it, and our Army will be better because of it," said McDonald.
He then thanked Karbler's family for their support that enabled him to achieve what he did during his time on post. Noting the family called three houses home during their four years at Fort Sill, McDonald said he hopes the trip to Hawaii will make up for their unsettled life in Oklahoma.
Drawing from that land of exotic fruits and soothing ocean breezes, the half section presented Karbler's wife, Leah, and daughter, Lauren, with leis in lieu of flower bouquets. Leah responded with a bucket of tropical refreshments for the men and horses of the half section.
McDonald chronicled Leah's influence that reached throughout Fort Sill and beyond its gates to the greater Lawton community. She headed up the 31st ADA Brigade's family readiness group, served in the Lawton Armed Services YMCA and Patriot Spouses' Club and volunteered extensively in the Growing Spouses Army Strong program. All this happened in addition to raising her family and attending to her duties as an Air Force Reserve major.
"We couldn't be more proud of you," said McDonald. "You've made Lawton and Fort Sill a better place for all of us."
Karbler then expressed his appreciation to all gathered on a hot and humid day, paying respects especially to the color guard, salute battery and the bandsmen.
Producing flowers from the podium, Karbler delivered them to his secretary, Vicki Stowe, for her outstanding support.
Stowe likely epitomized the kind of people Karbler said made Fort Sill such a welcoming post to come to. Leaving behind the hectic world of Washington, D.C., he found the pace of life here slower and the people friendly.
He recalled an invite from Mike Dooley, 428th FA Brigade deputy commander, to watch the Fourth of July parade shortly after the Karblers arrival here.
"Here's this civilian dressed up like Uncle Sam and I'm thinking this is a cool place a little interesting, a little different," he said. "It was like going to 'Mayberry RFD' or your hometown neighborhood."
He said that was an example of how he and his family got "niced to death" whether on or off post.
Focusing next on teamwork, Karbler said that quality displayed itself throughout his stay here. He cited the ease of getting the job done despite having to close the post for a couple snow storms and working with brigade command sergeants major to satisfy special duty boards.
He concluded his remarks speaking of the opportunities he experienced here. Calling Fort Sill a microcosm of the entire Army, he mentioned all the various sub-groups that form this post and how working with each enriched his time here. Recalling life off duty, Karbler praised the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation for its quality of life programs.
"One tour of new youth center proved the quality of life and dedication this post has to its Army family programs," said the general who professed a special fondness for Twin Oaks Bowling Center. "On behalf of the Karblers, thanks for a wonderful four years here."
Pfc. Cory Stoppel then presented the brigadier general with a ceremonial canister representing a round fired in his honor.
Fitting for a man well versed in music, Karbler led his family in singing the "Armed Forces Medley" as the ceremony concluded.