WIESBADEN, Germany - It was a day to mark the transition of two leaders in U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden with the focus on friendships, support and the vital role of personal and professional relationships.

As German and American guests gathered to witness Kathleen Marin, Installation Management Command-Europe director, pass the garrison's colors from Col. David Carstens to incoming commander Col. Mary Martin, speakers acknowledged how important genuine friendship and caring are in ensuring outstanding community relations and support.

"People are the strength of our Army," said Marin during the change of command ceremony July 10 on Clay Kaserne, relating how serving those who serve relies on inspirational leadership, dedicated employees and engaged partnerships.

"Dave knows it takes more than buildings and budgets to serve people, which is why his garrison had an over 92 percent customer satisfaction rate," said Marin about the outgoing commander. "He understands that being a good neighbor means reaching out to our German friends, opening our doors and fostering trust both on and off Clay Kaserne. … After all, we are more than friends -- we are family."

Shortly before the ceremony, host nation and U.S. service members and civilians gathered to honor the outgoing commander.

Marin presented Carstens with the Legion of Merit, saying people were inspired by his leadership during his tenure at the helm of the garrison. "I couldn't have been prouder to serve with Col. Dave Carstens," Marin said.

Carstens thanked his workforce, staff and the many host nation leaders and citizens who helped support him in his effort to make "Wiesbaden: Your home in Germany" for the service members, civilians and families living and working in Wiesbaden.

"You've been wonderful ambassadors and friends with the city of Wiesbaden," said German Brig. Gen. Eckart Klink, commander of the Bundeswehr's Hessen Landeskommando, after presenting Carstens with the German military's Ehrenkreuz in Silver. "You've been the heart and the personal face of the American forces here."

The outgoing commander, who moves on to serve as the inspector general for U.S. Army Europe in Wiesbaden, said he was proud to have had the chance to continue in the tradition set by his father who was born in Germany and served in the U.S. military during World War II helping liberate Europe.

"I can think of no place I'd rather serve and raise my family," he said. "Thanks to all who make this city and this garrison my home."

IMCOM-Europe's regional director talked about the Berlin Airlift, its roots in Wiesbaden and the "firm commitment to German-American cooperation" throughout the Cold War and "enormous change in both the United States and Germany -- and indeed in Europe."

With the move of U.S. Army Europe Headquarters from Heidelberg, "Wiesbaden continues to play a crucial role in ensuring our democracies are not only prepared for the missions of the present, but the requirements of the future."

Marin also pointed out that many Americans, "including myself, can trace our roots back to Germany, and may of our German friends have distant relatives who made their way to the United States." Citing a Bloomberg Business Week study, she said 49.8 million Americans claim German-American heritage.

"As we write a new chapter" in the story of IMCOM-Europe, Marin said, "I know that you all share in my enthusiasm as we welcome the new USAG Wiesbaden garrison commander, Col. Mary Martin."

The first woman to assume a brigade-level command in IMCOM-Europe, Martin formerly served as the Army's G1 deputy director for Technology and Business Architecture Integration in Washington, D.C. She is no stranger to Germany having served as the deputy G1 strength manager for the 1st Armored Division in Wiesbaden and Iraq from 2006-2009.

"As a leader with broad international experience and particular experience in Germany, I know that you will build bridges of cooperation with our German hosts," said Marin. "It is truly a privilege of ours to live and serve alongside our friends, and I know you will continue a tradition of being a good neighbor in the region."

"I am looking forward very much to getting to know you better and to continue the great cooperation and relationship that exists between the garrison of Wiesbaden and our German friends, partners and neighbors," said Martin.