By Mr. Nate Allen, IMCOMOctober 18, 2016
After serving more than 34 years, Maj. Gen. LaWarren V. Patterson, Deputy Commanding General for Operations and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command, retired from the Army at the Fort Sam Houston Quadrangle on Friday.
Event organizers estimate over 350 people attended the ceremony to congratulate Patterson on his long and successful career.
Patterson's retirement marks the end of an Army career that covered most of the last 4 decades and much of the globe. His Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and numerous other awards and decorations provide an indication of his distinguished service. .
The 2014 transformation of the U.S. Army Signal Center of Excellence to U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence, a plan Patterson set in motion, placed a greater emphasis on the Army Signal Corps' cyber communication support to the Army. This fundamental change to the Signal Corps gave legacy to Patterson's expertise and vision as an Army Signal Officer. However, many who worked with him say his interpersonal skills with the work force was his greatest strength which enabled change.
Patterson's shade tree counseling was more than a figure of speech. He would sometimes work at a small table and chair, under a large oak, on the west side of the IMCOM Headquarters building, removing the walls between himself and employees.
"I'll miss him," said Mitchell Lee, an IMCOM Headquarters Operations Specialist. "There were never any gray areas with his guidance and he always took time to listen and mentor."
Patterson found one of the easiest ways to reach the staff was demonstrating his love for the Army, something he knew he shared with service members and employees. Frequent morning visits at one of the installation gates to check IDs, and the pulse of the staff, often allowed him to be the first person from IMCOM to greet people on their way into work. The gesture of a two-star General standing at the gate took employees off guard and created a buzz. However, Patterson says it was nothing more than sharing the excitement of a new Army day.
"I did it because it made me feel good," said Patterson. "The Army has been my passion for more than 35 years; it's easy to get excited about things when you're passionate about them."
Lee said Patterson didn't like to wait for briefings. Rather, he enjoyed engaging the staff where they worked through processes. Initially his visits to staff sections and working groups surprised some employees, but it provided candid dialog, which gave Patterson better awareness of the complexities which exist in the oversight of 73 unique Army Garrisons.
"That was really good," said Lee. "It took people out of their comfort zone, which makes people better leaders."
After the ceremony, a Soldier who served with Patterson as his Brigade Command Sergeant Major offered insight of the General's career as he stood in a line of many, waiting to shake his hand.
"He (Patterson) made a great impact," said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Braley McCutchen. "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."
Patterson has plans to stay in San Antonio, where he has made many friends, including those who live and work at Joint Base San Antonio Fort Sam Houston.