STUTTGART, Germany -- Col. John P. Stack assumed leadership of U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart from Col. Carl D. Bird during a change of command ceremony held July 23 on the Panzer Barracks' parade field.

Bird, who took command of the garrison on July 19, 2010, will now serve as the assistant commandant at the U.S. Army Quartermaster School at Fort Lee, Va.

Under a brilliant blue, cloudless sky, U.S. and German VIPs, colleagues, garrison employees, friends and family gathered to bid farewell to the former garrison leader and welcome the new commander.

Kathleen Marin, the Installation Management Command Europe Region director, presided over a ceremony that included opera singer Robert Chafin, a cousin of the outgoing commander, who sang the U.S. and German anthems.

The 85th Army Band from Arlington Heights, Ill., shared the parade grounds with a formation of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, which reflected the joint nature of the Stuttgart military community.

Acknowledging the challenge of overseeing an Army garrison in a joint environment, Marin said that the mission is "as complex as it is important -- providing support to some of the most important organizations championing liberal democracy and security, like the United States European Command and United States Africa Command."

Bird's leadership, she said, ensured that the garrison provided "the right level of support at the right time … with sustained excellence."

During an era of increased scrutiny in military spending, Marin commended Bird's achievements in adapting garrison operations to increase its efficiency and effectiveness.

"Carl … understands the importance of making intelligent investments for sustainable prosperity not only today, but also tomorrow," she said.

Marin detailed Bird's money-saving accomplishments that have saved the garrison over $1.2 million: the replacement of steam heating lines and water lines; the installation of LED street lights, and motion detection lights in public toilets and administrative facility hallways, and the reduction of inefficiencies in weekend operations at the Patch Barracks Dining Facility.

"Managing a garrison of this size and complexity cannot be done alone," Marin said. She added that Bird's spouse Hope was a valued partner with an exceptional record of service -- active as a Girl Scout leader, a volunteer for Army Community Service, and a senior advisor to the American Red Cross, United Service Organizations and the German-American Women's Club.

Marin thanked both for their service to military members and their families.

"Your service is a source of inspiration for me personally and for many of us here," she said.

She then welcomed Stack and his wife Petrina, and children Mikeal, Dalton and Liz.

Marin said that while Stack brings a global perspective and proven leadership skills to the garrison, " … there is no more challenging time than now to lead an Army garrison, especially in Europe.

"I'll expect you to ask the questions as you chart a course for the future here in the Stuttgart, and take up the mantle of leadership in this chapter of the Stuttgart legacy."

In his farewell address, Bird started by recounting a lighthearted story about his dog Casey. Soon, though, his voice cracked with emotion as he credited the accomplishments of the garrison to the support he received from the leaders of EUCOM, AFRICOM, U.S. Army Europe, IMCOM Europe, the tenant units and surrounding German communities.

He also acknowledged the efforts of the garrison employees. "The garrison is staffed by professionals who understand their mission is to deliver superior services and support to the community. I'd like to give my whole-hearted thanks to my directors who make that happen on a daily basis through the dedication and hard work of all their employees," said Bird.

Bird turned the podium over to Stack, who thanked the guests, family and friends for attending, as well as the Birds for their leadership and commitment to the Stuttgart military community.

Stack said he was eager to begin his mission.

"I look forward to forging a great working relationship with all the organizations and units in this community, as well as with our German partners throughout Stuttgart. I am also looking forward to leading this hard-working garrison team," he said.

Stack is not new to garrison operations, having served as garrison commander of Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., from 2007 to 2010.

Page last updated Mon August 6th, 2012 at 00:00