FORT STEWART, GA -- Soldiers and Families of the 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield and surrounding communities gathered at Marne Garden, June 13 to bid farewell to three Marne leaders.
In a Farewell Retreat ceremony, Brig. Gen. James L. Huggins, 3rd Inf. Div. Deputy Commanding General for Maneuver; Brig. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, Division Deputy Commanding General for Support; and Col. Mark E. McKnight, Division Chief of Staff were honored for their dedication and service to the division.
"Their contributions to the defense of our nation are immeasurable," said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, 3rd Inf. Div. commander. "Not just on this deployment, but throughout their entire military career."
Lynch said that between Huggins' focus on security and transition and Cardon's focus on governance and economic development, things were nothing short of spectacular during the recent deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Likewise, Lynch said that McKnight- whom he hand picked as Chief of Staff- has been the stabilizing influence of the Division staff.
Huggins assumed his duties for the 3rd Inf. Div. in March 2007.
"It has been an honor to serve in your ranks," he said. "I've been blessed to be a Dog Face Soldier. I'll be proud to always stay a Dog Face Soldier. The sacrifices not only the Soldiers made, but the Families, are absolutely incredible."
Huggins thanked Lynch and his wife Sarah for their leadership and friendship, extended a special thanks to his Family for their support, thanked his personal staff - who he credited for his success in Iraq, the Division staff, and the Coastal Georgia community support.
"We've been blessed with folks that care incredibly about what our Families do and what our Soldiers do in daily operations and deployed."
Huggins added that the 3rd Inf. Div. made history and still plays a major role in the War on Terrorism.
"I think that when this is over, the 3rd ID will be at the forefront in that (history) book."
Awarded the Legion of Merit, Huggins moves on to assume the duties as Director of Operations, Readiness and Mobilization for the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff in Washington, D.C.
Cardon has served with the 3rd Inf. Div. for five years. During the ceremony, he reflected on the success and progress the division made from OIF I to OIF V, adding that the installation has also undergone incredible changes.
"It's been an amazing time," he said as he thanked the Soldiers of the Marne Division. "I'm proud to have served with each one of you and to have been part of making history."
Cardon thanked Lynch and Sarah.
"General Lynch and I go all the way back to his days as a company commander when I walked in as a second lieutenant," he said as he thanked him for his mentorship, leadership and friendship over the last 25 years.
Cardon also extended his thanks to the Division staff, personal staff, the community for their support, the Families of the Marne Division and his own Family.
"It's a hard day to leave after five years, but with that said the Army is a small place," Cardon said. "I look forward to seeing many of you again."
Cardon was also awarded the Legion of Merit.
McKnight deployed with the 3rd Inf. Div. during OIF I and redeployed with the Division in March 2007 supporting OIF V.
"This is a big honor for my Family to be a part of today's Retreat ceremony," he said.
McKnight credits the Division and community support for making this tour the best he's had in his 25 years of service to the Army. He added that it was going to be emotionally hard to leave those he and his Family have grown close to.
"We want no good byes," McKnight said. "We want only 'see-you-later.'"
Though he was deeply saddened to leave, McKnight added comic relief to his speech as he joked about his next duty station.
"We are going to Fort Leavenworth, and we're getting a big house overlooking the river. We are not going to the 'Big House' at Fort Leavenworth," he said and laughed with the crowd of well-wishers.
McKnight extended his thanks to the Division staff, his Family and a special thanks to the veterans of the community.
"They were there for every good-bye and every hello," he said. "There's an old saying 'It's not the places it's the faces,' but fortunately you find them both here in the Hinesville and Coastal Georgia area."
Awarded the Legion of Merit, McKnight moves on to assume duties as the commander of the U.S. Army Battle Command Training Program in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
At the end of the ceremony, the Salute Battery presented shell casings to Huggins and Cardon as a traditional departing gift.