By Kristin Molinaro, The BayonetJuly 24, 2009
FORT BENNING, Ga. - Deputy garrison commander Chuck Walls isn't ready to leave.
"I'm still packing things up and finishing paperwork. I probably won't leave this office until I have to get on the plane," Walls said.
After 20 years serving Soldiers and families at Fort Benning, Walls will be taking on a new assignment in Vicenza, Italy.
"It's very hard to go," Walls said. "It's not where I'm going, but where I am coming from that makes this tough. I prefer being in the middle of something, making things happen, than dealing with this departure business."
Walls joined the Army in 1976 as an Armor officer. He served in a variety of command and staff positions in Kansas, Virginia, Germany, England and Georgia before retiring in 1996. After his retirement, Walls became the venue staffing manager for the women's fast pitch softball competition hosted in Columbus during the 1996 summer Olympics. In November of the same year, Walls was hired as the deputy to the garrison commander for Fort Benning and began a long career serving the post and its surrounding communities.
"I've seen Columbus and Fort Benning grow enormously in the last 20 years," he said. "This job gets into your blood. I wake up in the morning and I'm excited to go to work. It's not a job, it's a way of life."
The deputy garrison commander supervises 14 directors who support the installation base structure. The directors are responsible for personnel, budget, law enforcement, safety, logistics, engineering, transportation, environment, contracting, communications, recreation facilities, childcare and other installation services.
"So much of what we do is 'invisible' such as training support to all our units such as making sure air conditioners are running and our dining facilities open on time," Walls said.
Walls said in his time at Fort Benning he encouraged directors to be visionary rather than reactionary when planning projects.
"We don't want to go back after we constructed something and wish we'd done something different during the planning stages," he said. "I appreciate the entire garrison team. We've got so many strong directors in charge that my role was only to keep everything on track, plug in information and be there to support them. When we started, the garrison was three people, a secretary and a driver. We've now grown to a robust organization that can meet any challenge."
While Walls prefers to downplay his role, local leaders such as LTG (R) Carmen Cavezza said his absence would be felt.
"He will be missed, just like any key leaders," Cavezza said. "The void will be filled but there will be a gap for a while."
Cavezza said he first met Walls while serving as the post's commander in 1990.
After working together during the 1996 summer Olympics, Cavezza continued to collaborate with Walls on projects.
"He was a key staff person for Fort Benning when you wanted to get something done," said Cavezza, who now serves as the executive director of the Cunningham Center for Leadership Development at Columbus State University. "He's not out for glory, he's out to get the job done."
Walls said he is proud of the preparation done by the installation for BRAC and bringing the Armor School to Fort Benning.
He said he is also proud of the effort and work put in to effecting the land swap with Columbus and especially proud of his role with the new National Infantry Museum.
Other accomplishments he recalled during his tenure included raising money for the Combined Federal Campaign, building a strong garrison team that works well with the command, working under 11 commanding generals and seven garrison commanders.
"I don't look at them as 'my' accomplishments, they are the organization's accomplishments," said Walls, giving credit to the directors, various agencies and staff involved in these projects.
With 20 years of accomplishments under his belt, Walls said it is tough to single out one to be most proud of. But if he had to choose one, it would be helping families.
"You can work large construction projects but helping a family is truly the most rewarding," he said. "I believe I'm leaving the installation in good hands with my replacement, George Steuber. He will do great things for Fort Benning."
In a few weeks, Walls and wife, Terry, will be headed to Italy and will remember fondly their time at Fort Benning.
"When we got here in 1989, we never dreamed where we'd end up," he said. I've had great folks to work with since I got here. I've been blessed."