By Colleen Flaherty
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD — Senior leaders from the First U.S. Army met on Cameron Field Friday to say goodbye to Maj. Gen. Charles A. Anderson, outgoing First Army Division West commander.
Anderson leaves Division West — and the Army — after 32 years of service.
“Soldiering is an affair of the heart,” Anderson said at the joint-change of command and retirement ceremony, quoting famous 20th century U.S. Army Gen. Creighton Abrams. “Standing behind this podium on my last day (in the military), that meaning is intensified.”
The Army is an organization “where the needs of others are greater than self,” he continued.
Anderson relinquished command to Maj. Gen. Perry L. Wiggins, former deputy commander of U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.
Wiggins said Anderson had “built a legacy not only in Division West but throughout the Army, and it will endure” under his watch.
Division West, a subordinate unit of First Army, trains Army National Guard and Reserve soldiers in the weeks and months leading up to their deployments to combat or other operations. The division also trains units of the active Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, as well as service members from other nations.
First Army Division West trained 75,000 service members during Anderson’s two-year command.
Three of Division West’s eight subordinate training brigades are stationed at North Fort Hood: 120th Infantry, 479th Field Artillery and 166th Aviation. Its other units are the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, Wis.; the 189th and 191st Infantry Brigades at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; and the 402nd Field Artillery and 5th Armored Brigades at Fort Bliss in El Paso.
First Army’s commander, Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek, traveled to the ceremony from his post at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., along with brigade commanders from all of Division’s West’s training brigades. Bednarek called Anderson a “tough taskmaster, physically and mentally,” who’d been hand-picked to lead Division West in 2009, just months after its headquarters relocated to Fort Hood from Fort Carson, Colo. The time since has been “arguably its two toughest years” of non-stop training cycles, he added.
Wiggins is equally capable, Bednarek said. “This might be a formal change of command, but there will be no change in quality of Division West.”