By CourtesyJune 6, 2019
Story by Master Sgt. Shelia Cooper
3rd ID Public Affairs
Maj. Gen. Leopoldo A. Qunitas, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division and senior commander of Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, thanked and said farewell the community during the Army Communities of Excellence award ceremony, May 28 at Club Stewart on Fort Stewart.
The Department of the Army named Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield as the winner for the 2019 Army Communities of Excellence award earlier this year, making it the seventh time the installation won the award.
"To be recognized for the seventh time is really a true mark of excellence," said Quintas. "We are very proud of this achievement. It is a comprehensive look and is truly a great achievement to be recognized as the best."
Quintas and key leaders accepted the ACOE award and thanked the community for their long-standing partnership to the Soldiers and Families who work on the installation.
"All the communities around here have been strong supporters of Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield for decades," said William Cathcart, Civilian Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. "This award is important from the standpoint of the Army, like all military services, they want to station their people and add missions where they are wanted, accepted and supported by the community."
Cathcart stated that the community support from Hinesville to Savannah is universally strong and committed to partnership and excellence.
"This great award enhances the pride that community residences feel for Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield," Cathcart said.
Quintas said the relationship with the community has never been better.
"In my 33 years in the U.S. Army, I have never seen it better, than what we have seen here at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield," Qunitas said. "There is no better community to be part of than the coastal Georgia community."
Quintas who changed command earlier this week, served three tours at Fort Stewart and considers the coastal Georgia area home.
"This has been the greatest professional honor of my 33-year career," said Quintas. "To have been able to serve as commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division and the senior commander of Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, it has been an honor."
Quintas, who deployed the division headquarters to Afghanistan in the summer of 2017, said it was one of the most memorable moments as a commander.
"It was an honor to be able to deploy a good part of the division to Afghanistan and conduct operations there on behalf of the nation," said Qunitas. "It has also been an honor to partner with the Georgia National Guard and promote this idea of the Total Force Integration, which prepared them for their mission to deploy to Afghanistan."
Every brigade under his leadership has deployed in support of contingency operations and redeployed back to Stewart-Hunter.
"Some of the most important things I will always remember, was preparing our Soldiers to go into harm's way," Quintas said. "We took them through very difficult training to make sure they were fully prepared. And we prepared their Families for the deployment too. I also made it a point to be at every flight departing to deploy into harm's way. I wanted to look every Soldier in the eye, shake their hands and wish them the very best."
Seeing the Soldiers off to deploy is one thing. But Quintas also made it a point to be at every welcome home ceremony for units redeploying back to Stewart.
"Another important moment for me is when I shake their [Soldiers] hands as they come off of the plane," said Quintas. "I think success on the battlefield is about mastering the fundamentals. It's not about echelons of planning and maneuver, it's about fundamentals things like marksmanship, first aid, and communication. If you focus on lethality, being a Soldier and providing good sound leadership, it gives us the competitive edge on the battlefield."
During his tenure as the division commander, the division, brigades, and battalions completed complex multi-echelon training exercises to include three Warfighter exercises, rotations at the National Training Center and the Joint Readiness Training Center, several emergency deployment readiness exercises, hurricane and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense response missions and southwest border security.
"This division is born out of a legacy of grit and determination which makes a difference," said Quintas. "Having come from a division that has been focused on building warfighting readiness that has deployed a brigade to Korea and the division headquarters, sustainment and combat aviation brigade to Afghanistan, I come with an element of experience and perspective that will help the Forces Command commander,"Quintas said.
After commanding the 3rd ID for two years, Quintas relinquished his role as commander to Maj. Gen. Antonio A. Aguto.
Quintas will continue to serve the country as the deputy commanding general for U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.