By Minnie JonesJuly 31, 2008
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas --- Fort Sam Houston bid Col. Wendy Martinson farewell during a change of command ceremony July 29 at the post's main flagpole. Martinson, who has been the garrison commander for three years, relinquished her command to incoming commander Col. Mary Garr.
The ceremony was presided over by Maj. Gen. Russell Czerw, commanding general, Fort Sam Houston and Army Medical Department Center and School, and J. Randall Robinson, director, U.S. Army Installation Management Command-West Region. Both praised Martinson's selfless service to the Army, Fort Sam Houston and its surrounding communities.
Martinson has been at the forefront of positive changes at Fort Sam Houston after taking the reins in 2005. She was an instrumental force in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure and Army Transformation on Fort Sam Houston that involved the construction of new buildings and preparation for the arrival of more than 12,000 new personnel, which includes Air Force and Navy personnel. She oversaw and supervised the building of new on-post housing to accommodate Soldiers and their Families and multiple Morale, Welfare and Recreation projects like the Fort Sam Houston Golf Course and Canyon Lake.
As Czerw addressed the audience of dignitaries, Soldiers and Family members, he noted her leadership and management skills and her loyalty and commitment to Soldiers and their Families, especially to wounded warriors.
"With your leadership, you set the conditions to allow this installation to be able to accommodate over $2 billion worth of construction that is coming to us. You were able to allow us to transform our 'Home of Army Medicine,' to the 'Home of Military Medicine,' and a Brooke Army Medical Center that is right now a phenomenon, to even a better health care organization," said Czerw.
Czerw referred to Army values to describe Martinson. "There is no other individual that epitomizes, in my eyes, these values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage more than Col. Wendy Martinson.
"Wendy, you and your dream team have performed brilliantly. In this new era of change, you've charted a course through difficult waters. Future generations of Soldiers, retirees and Family members will reap the benefits of your work. You've left a legacy that you can be proud of. I am proud to have had this opportunity to work with you and learn from you," said Czerw.
Robinson was next to take the podium and echoed Czerw's appreciation for the work that Martinson did while serving as garrison commander.
"Wendy, as you depart Fort Sam Houston, you can recall with pride that you took on a difficult mission and accomplished that mission well. Your leadership, energy and vision clearly exemplify, "Army Strong." Fort Sam Houston and the Army have benefited from your leadership and I want to thank you," said Robinson.
In a heartfelt farewell speech, Martinson greeted the audience, praised the entire garrison for all of their hard work and dedication during her tenure and highlighted their accomplishments. She started her speech off by saying, "A mistake has been made, I'm not ready to go."
Martinson expanded on why she was proud and grateful of the leadership, Soldiers and civilians who served with her during her tenure, noting previous and present commanding generals of Fort Sam Houston and Army Medical Department Center and School Maj. Gens. George Weightman and Russell Czerw; and IMCOM-West Director J. Randall Robinson.
"Every person who works, lives and visits Fort Sam Houston is touched by the work of the garrison. From the roads that you drive on, to the gates that you enter and exit from, to the connectivity of your computers ...., if you have received any of these services and many others, you have been touched by the people of this garrison. They are the same people who have been responsible for giving me every ounce of their effort for these past three years ..., they are an awesome team," said Martinson.
Martinson welcomed Garr and her family to Fort Sam Houston, and said, "You've have joined a fabulous team Mary. Your reputation has proceeded you and I know these people will be in good hands, good luck to you."
Czerw welcomed new commander Garr by saying, "We are blessed to have Mary Garr to continue to run with the ball. I believe fully that she is superbly qualified to take control of the garrison."
"You're inheriting a great team, which is well versed on the intricacies, challenges, and plans for our community's future. Because of the people on this team, this will continue to be a magnificent institution; with you on-board, we'll continue to improve. We all look forward to working with you," said Czerw.
Garr, who calls San Antonio home, recently served as chief of staff, Europe Regional Medical Command, Nachrichten Kaserne, Heidelberg, Germany. She greeted the audience and thanked Martinson and her husband Frank for welcoming their family back home.
"We are excited to be back here today and look forward to serving with you as the Fort Sam Houston garrison commander. I am truly invested in this community," the colonel said.
"Today, I see work to preserve Fort Sam Houston's great heritage and history while forging ahead to build Fort Sam Houston's exciting future in one of the fastest growing cities in America," said Garr.
Garr, went on to say that Martinson has done an amazing job in leading her team through the challenges which have led Fort Sam Houston to where it stands today. "I am truly honored to receive the mantel of command from Wendy today, and truly look forward as serving as your garrison commander and facing the challenges that Fort Sam Houston will see in the coming year."
Garr graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in international relations and a master's in health administration from Baylor University. Her military schooling includes the AMEDD Officer Basic Course, the AMEDD Officer Advanced Course, and Command and General Staff College.