Garrison bids farewell to commander
July 12, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 12, 2012) -- Teamwork, making Fort Rucker a better place, continuous improvement, taking care of Soldiers and Families, great relations with the surrounding communities and golf were the primary themes surrounding the final week of the garrison commander's tour.
The end of Col. James A. Muskopf's tour will come July 13 at 10 a.m. during a change of command ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum, but before that he took some time to reflect on his time running the post in an interview with the Army Flier, and also took some good-natured ribbing about his golf game along with receiving accolades for his service at his farewell luncheon July 10 at the Landing.
"Thanks for making this the easiest job on post," he said to the garrison workforce and entire Fort Rucker team during the interview. "People think I'm joking when I say that, but it has been an absolute pleasure to command this garrison. It's been an absolute joy every day to come into work and accomplish the mission that we need to do.
"And with the climate set by the senior commander (Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general), and the enthusiasm and energy and dedication that the folks who work for and around me have put into making Fort Rucker better, it absolutely has been the easiest job on post."
Muskopf feels the biggest accomplishment during his tour at Fort Rucker had to do with teams.
"We have truly built a team of teams at Fort Rucker," he said. "Within each one of the divisions they have a very solid team, but those teams need to work together to form the garrison team. And then that garrison team has to work together with USAACE and the senior commander and all the other tenants on post in order for us to be successful. It just expands out and ends up encompassing the whole post and everybody's working off of the same sheet of music and doing everything that they can to make Fort Rucker a little bit better for everybody here."
But that doesn't mean his time at Fort Rucker was challenge free. The colonel admitted that before he took command of the garrison, he wasn't quite sure what he was getting into.
"An Army Aviator doesn't grow up learning how to run a garrison, but the goodness is we have a lot of competent career civilians who know exactly how to do that. If you'll just sit there and listen to them, understand their perspectives and get their recommendations, you can be successful," he said.
"As far as challenges, I said this the day I took command, I really don't look at any challenges as challenges -- I look at them as opportunities to make a difference. Have there been things that came up over the last two years? Of course, but you always take them and you kind of peel the onion back and see what is really going there, and then you put that onion back together a little bit better than it was before. We've had some opportunities here to make changes and do some things that helped the post."
At his farewell, many from that team of teams took the opportunity to inject some levity into the farewell by taking some shots at the colonel for his exploits on Silver Wings Golf Course.
After Tim Laster, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, revealed that a sand bunker on the course had been named Muskopf Beach in honor of how much time the commander spent in it, Deborah Seimer, director of Human Resources, alleged at least one instance of bending the rules.
She professed to have witnessed Muskopf enlisting the aid of his battle buddy, garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Dwaine Walters to move his ball out of some trees for a better shot.
"I never cheated at golf -- it was him," Walters later said while pointing towards Muskopf.
But kinder words were also spoken at the farewell, along with the commander's wife, Esse, receiving recognition for her efforts during the tour by being inducted into Honorable Order of Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
"On behalf of the CG, I want to thank you, Jim, thank you as a team for all you've done for this great post and also for our community," said Col. Jessie O. Farrington, deputy commander of USAACE. "Esse, your style, just the way you are has made this place great. We're going to miss you both -- thank you very much."
Muskopf also thanked God, his father, his wife, the USAACE CG and command group, Walters and the rest of the garrison command team, the garrison workforce, the people from the tenant units and the communities around Fort Rucker.
"Not to take anything away from the city of Philadelphia, but there is no more brotherly love in this country than there is in the Wiregrass," he said. "It is just superb the way this community supports Fort Rucker and how Fort Rucker supports the community. It is phenomenal -- the best I've seen in 28 years at a bunch of different posts -- the level of support that we get from the outlying cities, the community and the whole Wiregrass."
Muskopf will move on to Carlisle Barracks, Pa., to become the Joint Multinational Issues Branch chief at the Army War College.
Friday's change of command also features a change of responsibility ceremony where Walters will step down as garrison command sergeant major and Command Sgt. Maj. Buford E. Noland will accept the position.