HOHENFELS, Germany -- U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels Deputy to the Garrison Commander Wesley D. Potter and his wife Cindy departed Hohenfels recently for their new posting at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
"Hohenfels is going to miss the Potters," said Lt. Col. John J. Strange Jr., USAG Hohenfels commander. "They are really the kind of people that make Hohenfels a special place, people interested in taking care of others. Our loss is Alaska's gain."
Potter will be serving as deputy to the commander of USAG Wainwright, which also encompasses some functions at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, roughly 400 miles away.
"The biggest difference is size," said Potter, noting that the Donnelly Training Area in Alaska is the second largest ground maneuver training area in the Army.
"Here (Hohenfels) we have a battalion," Potter said. "(Ft. Wainwright) is charged with two brigades, plus other scattered out activities."
Potter feels his time in Hohenfels has helped prepare him for the larger garrison by giving him greater exposure to such programs as Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, human resources and business integration.
"Being in Hohenfels gave me the opportunity to work with the other functional leads and kind of learn what they do. Now, I'm going to a larger garrison where these functions are much bigger and more involved, so at least I'll have an idea of what the requirements are," he said.
Potter added that while his wife and he never intended to leave Europe so quickly, they had been interested in Alaska for some time.
"It's one of those things," he said. "You get an opportunity, you get a phone call, and some things are just hard to pass up."
Strange said it's important to note that there's been a critical vacancy in the deputy to the garrison commander at Ft. Wainwright for some time, and that senior installation management command leadership recognized that Potter possessed the necessary experience and skill set.
"They asked him back in December if he'd be willing to take it, and I think he is absolutely the right man for the job," said Strange.
One special perk is that Potter's son, Capt. Nicholas Potter, is also stationed at Ft. Wainwright, and he has other family scattered along the Pacific Northwest.
"Most of my career both in the military and as a civilian has been in the Pacific," said Potter, who came to Hohenfels from IMCOM Pacific in Hawaii. During that time, he visited Ft. Wainwright and the surrounding installations roughly once a quarter.
"There are a lot of the same people at Ft. Wainwright who I've worked with before, so we're pretty excited," he said.
An avid photographer, Potter said he is also looking forward to the photo opportunities offered by the Alaskan wilderness.
"In Europe, you shoot some landscapes, but it's mostly towns and cities and historical sites," he said. "But (Alaska is) a whole adjustment in the types of photos you're going after -- wildlife, landscapes -- so I'm already thinking about what type of lenses I'll need."
As he heads for new horizons, Potter said he is proud of what he and the Hohenfels team accomplished in his time here, particularly as they worked through the transformation to the Bavarian Military Community (BMC).
"Our current initiative of going to a BMC -- that's the template that most of the Pacific has been in for years. I'm accustomed to that template, and I think that's a great way for the European large garrisons to go; there's a lot of efficiency to be gained there."
"We had some challenges with downsizing," he admitted, "but I think the team here, with support from team Grafenwoehr, really smoothed that process out and made it happen."
Potter also said he was particularly proud of Hohenfels' environmental stand, and praised the environmental division, the energy manager and the entire Directorate of Public Works.
"Given the size of our community and budget, Hohenfels is really doing great things in renewable energy and the environmental stewardship of the Box," he said.
Though the Potters are both looking forward to their new post, they admit they will miss Hohenfels and its unique sense of community.
"After a while you figure out that no matter rank or grade, it's just us, and we're here to support each other, and we're really going to miss that," said Potter.