By Kari HawkinsJuly 12, 2017
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. July 12, 2017 -- Under the collar of his three-star uniform, Lt. Gen. Larry Wyche wears a symbol of his early years of service that has kept him connected to the challenges and aspirations of the Army's enlisted ranks.
That symbol - the rank of a sergeant - is important to an officer who has focused on being accessible, fair and supportive to the Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians who have worked beside him and for him.
"For me, the Golden Rule is to treat people like you want to be treated," said Wyche, deputy commander of the Army Materiel Command and senior commander for Redstone Arsenal, Ala. "I've always tried to be very balanced in my life, and to be approachable. Balance is very important, in my opinion, because in this business things get thrown at your left and right, and top and bottom, and you have to continue to make sound decisions."
Wyche's personal/professional life balance will soon tip more to the personal side as he prepares for retirement, closing a career that has spanned more than four decades and included four years as an enlisted Soldier. His retirement ceremony is set for July 21 at 9 a.m. on the AMC Parade Field on Redstone Arsenal.
Wyche has been a part of the AMC enterprise for years; in some capacity, he reported to the past four of its commanders - Gen. Benjamin Griffin while commander of the Joint Munitions Command; Gen. Ann Dunwoody while AMC's deputy chief of staff, 3/4; and Gen. Dennis Via and Gen. Gus Perna while AMC deputy commander. In his current role, he not only assists in the AMC worldwide mission, but leads the Army's Conventional Ammunition and Explosives Safety programs, Depot Maintenance Corporate Board, and AMC's Cyber Assurance and Enterprise Resource Planning programs.
"All four of the commanders I've worked for have been exceptional," Wyche said. "But each approached things differently and had a different focus, and I've adapted to that. As AMC's deputy commander, I'm responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of a multi-billion dollar enterprise and to fill in the gaps and the seams for both previous commander Gen. Via and now Gen. Perna."
In addition to his duties as AMC's deputy commander, Wyche serves as the senior commander for Redstone Arsenal, a Federal Center of Excellence with more than 70 tenant organizations and a nearly 40,000-strong workforce.
"While it is very time consuming, at the same time, it's very rewarding to work with a community that really cares about Redstone Arsenal."
When not representing Redstone, Wyche is likely traveling to visit Corps and Division Commanders, as well as to AMC depots or industrial plants.
"We cannot forget the business we're in - the warfighting business. That's what we live for - to ensure our Soldiers have what they need to fight and win," Wyche said. "Our AMC units that support formations are a major part of the fight. Understanding the needs and connecting the dots from operational units to the Organic Industrial Base is critical."
Born in North Carolina and raised on a tobacco farm in Virginia, Wyche enlisted in the Army in 1975. He served as a cavalry scout, reaching the rank of sergeant.
"Every assignment I ever had taught me something about myself and the Army," Wyche said. "I would not replace my time as a young cavalry scout for any assignment. I was in the fox hole; I dug fox holes. I carried a M60, and I humped hills with teammates. That was special to me."
Wyche left active duty to attend Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, during which he commanded a detachment as a Reserve officer while also being active with the Army ROTC program. He was commissioned as a Quartermaster officer in 1982.
"My operational assignments in command at places like Fort Hood and Fort Bragg put me out there in the dirt learning how to lead Soldiers," Wyche said. "Then my introduction to the industrial side of the Army was as the commander of the Joint Munitions Command, where they make everything from 9 mm rounds to 21,600 thousand-pound bombs, and have 16,000 employees around the nation at 18 ammunition plants and sites. That taught me the business of the Army and gave me an understanding of industrial operations."
Other assignments - commander of the Combined Arms Support Command and the Sustainment Center at Fort Lee, Virginia.; commander of the Joint Logistics Command, Combined Task Force 76 in Afghanistan; and leadership roles in the offices of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Programs and Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics at the Pentagon - provided experiences that gave Wyche a well-rounded understanding of Army strategic operations.
In the wake of budget tightening measures, Wyche said the challenge is to continue to ensure readiness while also finding ways to be more efficient and effective. During his time at AMC, Wyche has focused on ensuring the right funding, infrastructure, personnel and capabilities are in place to support Soldier equipment readiness.
As a career logistician, Wyche has lived the meaning behind the warfighter logistician's mantra: "We are prepared to give the shirts off our backs and boots off our feet to support the fight. We will never say 'no' as long as there is one gallon of gas to give or one bullet to give."
"It is about selfless service. We, logisticians and sustainers, must do whatever it takes to support the Warfighters and Soldiers," he said.
Early in his Army career, a negative comment from a senior Soldier became the motivation for Wyche to excel. Yet, 15 years into his career, he began questioning his purpose in the Army.
"I realized that my purpose was to serve the people and the organizations that I serve with. My passion to be of service motivated me to wear this uniform," he said. "I come to work with a smile on my face because I love what I do. It's been said that 'Soldiering is an affair of the heart.' You've got to want to do it."
Leadership, too, is an affair of the heart, and success requires a true commitment to the concepts of leadership.
"As their leader, employees and Soldiers have to know you care and that you are competent to lead," Wyche said. "They have to have confidence and trust in you. They have to be able to say, 'That's my boss and I trust him.' Leaders must set a good example, and they have to care not only for their employees but also for their families."
Looking back on his service, Wyche said it is his family, and especially his wife, Denise, who had a 30-year career as a DA civilian, who he credits for his career's success. Of all he's accomplished, he is most proud of being able to make a difference in the lives of Soldiers and DA civilians.
"Watching the growth in the people who I have served with has been truly rewarding for me," he said. "It has been truly an honor to wear this uniform and serve our Army and country."