FORT LEE, Va. – More than two decades of work aimed at building a safer and secure Fort Lee has come to an end.
Joseph C. Metzger, who arrived here in 1993 as a Soldier assigned to the Criminal Investigation Command, concluded 40 years of federal service culminating as Fort Lee chief of police. His retirement ceremony was held Thursday at the Lee Club.
“I have a lot of bittersweet emotions,” said the visibly moved Metzger following the ceremony. “I love Fort Lee, and it was a hard decision to make, but it was the right decision to make.”
Among the roughly 150 guests at the event were Lionel Campos, deputy chief of staff, CASCOM; Gregory Harding, deputy to the garrison commander; and Lt. Col. Robin Pinckney, head of the Directorate of Emergency Services and the installation’s Provost Marshal Officer.
Members of Metzger’s family, fellow law enforcement officers from surrounding communities, and many Team Lee civilians rounded out the audience.
Retired Lt. Gen. Gwendolyn Bingham, a garrison commander and Quartermaster General during Metzger’s tenure, also was among the well-wishers. Shown live via internet connection, Bingham was seen holding an honorary, signed police badge gifted to her by Metzger years ago. She noted how he will be missed.
“We’re just so grateful for you. We appreciate you and applaud you and say ‘thanks for a job well done,’” said the former Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management.
Col. Karin L. Watson, also a former garrison commander who departed earlier this year, sent a congratulatory message thanking Metzger for all he has accomplished over the past two decades.
“Really appreciate everything you’ve done for Fort Lee and the entire community, the garrison, the DES team and especially me in my time as the garrison commander,” she said in a taped message. “Just want to wish you a lot of luck, success and happiness and love in the next chapter you’re about to embark upon.”
Pinckney, host of the ceremony and speaking from the lectern, said her time with Metzger has been more than eventful.
“We have shared many laughs, many good times and we’ve had several one-way and very direct conversations that we can now laugh about,” she said. “Joe, I want you and your family to know you have built your legacy here in DES and the Fort Lee community.”
Pinckney went on to say it will be difficult replacing such an impactful figure.
“You have built a solid foundation within the PMO over the last 20 years,” she said. “You’ve created [an unprecedented] brotherhood amongst your officers. You’ve established and created a culture of trust and integrity throughout the PMO. Most importantly, Joe, you’ve created lifelong friendships. You will forever be a part of DES.”
Metzger was quite thoughtful as he addressed the audience. Speaking without a mic and moving closer to his well-wishers, he came off as jovial and delightful, alternately thanking people for their support and sharing stories packed with punchlines.
Afterward, Metzger said he will miss the substance that makes Fort Lee a strong community.
“I’ll going to miss the people, the interactions,” he said, “… and just coming here every day having fun, getting things accomplished … and providing that safe environment where people can thrive and have a great time.”
Metzger joined the Army in 1982 as an enlisted Soldier. The Springfield, Ohio, native went on to become a warrant officer, spending separate tours at Fort Lee from 1993-1996 and 2000-2002. Metzger retired as a chief warrant officer 3 in 2002.
That same year, he was hired as the Provost Marshal Office operations officer. Metzger was promoted to the DES programs coordinator position in 2005. He became chief of police in 2006.
Among the highlights of his career were the establishment of the Department of the Army Civilian Police and DA Security Guard programs.
Additionally, Metzger contributed to security planning and coordination with the Secret Service during President Barack Obama’s visit here in 2012, and worked in support of the FBI during last year’s Operation Allied Refuge and Allies Welcome – through which, more than 3,200 Afghan personnel were processed for immigrant visas here.
Metzger’s retirement awards included the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, Order of Marechaussee and various tokens of appreciation.
PMO Operations Officer Louis P. Ostmann Jr. is serving as the interim chief of police.