WIESBADEN, Germany -- Lt. Gen. Frederick "Ben" Hodges, III capped off his 37-year Army career during a U.S. Army Europe relinquishment of command and retirement ceremony, Dec. 15 on Clay Kaserne.

This relinquishment marked the Florida native's U.S. Army Europe tour of duty. Hodges, who has served as the U.S. Army Europe commanding general since November 2014, relinquished his post to Maj. Gen. Timothy McGuire, the U.S. Army Europe deputy commanding general, as the Army continues its search for a permanent replacement.

Gen. Curtis M. Scapparrotti, commander of European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe presided over the ceremony and gave praise and admiration to Hodges' hard work and commitment during his tenure as the U.S. Army Europe commanding general.

"As the USAREUR commanding general, Ben has led our land forces during one of the most consequential periods in recent European history," Scapparrotti said. "He assumed command just as the United States and NATO were confronted with fundamental changes in Europe's security environment and in response Ben's (Hodges) leadership has led to the implementation of the United States' reassurance initiative.

The initiative included an increased U.S. force presence with armored brigade combat teams and combat aviation brigade rotations; a framework battalion task force for NATO's enhanced forward presence; an expanded challenging exercises and training with NATO's allies and partners; and partnerships with European nations -- in conjunction with the National Guard and the National Guard state partnership program.

Scapparrotti said Ben (Hodges) drove efforts to build nations self-defense capacity and interoperability with U.S. and NATO land forces. Through his personal commitment as a driving force, USAREUR advanced its common defense, demonstrating America's resolve to stand firm with its Allies in defending not just NATO territory but also the shared principles of international law and order.

Scapparrotti closed with thanking Hodges for his selfless service and dedication to U.S. Army Europe and the United States Army.

In Hodges closing remarks, he recapped his time as the U.S. Army Europe commanding general by highlighting three important things: America's commitment to stability and security in Europe; the importance of NATO; and America's relationship with Germany.

Hodges closed with saying, "America's greatness is based on the belief of our forefathers and the equality of all human beings and in liberty and tolerance. And because of this, our friends and Allies expect us to live up to very high moral standard and to set a good example by leading here in Europe."

Hodges will move back to Florida to be with his wife, children and grandchildren. He will also work for the Center for European Policy and Analysis (CEPA) as the new chair in strategic studies.