Garrison commander Col. Mark A. Freitag was credited with helping secure Fort Hood a new hospital, event stadium and Warrior Transition Brigade campus during a change of command ceremony Thursday at III Corps Headquarters.
But Freitag's successes during his two years in command weren't just buildings, said Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr., III Corps and Fort Hood commander.
"He's an engaged commander who understood the importance of organizational systems and processes, as well," Campbell said, adding that Freitag's solution-focused approach turned Fort Hood's safety record from one of the worst in the Army to one of the best.
The colonel, along with his wife, Patty, is moving to Fort Wainwright, Alaska, to become deputy commander of U.S. Army Alaska. His successor, Col. Matthew G. Elledge, comes to Fort Hood from Texas A&M University, where he completed his war college fellowship. He previously served at U.S. Southern Command.
The outgoing commander said he considered the many moving parts of garrison — from the directorates of Public Works and Emergency Services to the offices of Equal Employment Opportunity and Plans, Analysis and Integration — as a "beast of a horse that I'm riding, nudging it gently to keep it on the correct trail."
But, he told Elledge, "It will be a superb ride."
The incoming commander, who served with the 4th Infantry Division during its time at Fort Hood, said he and his wife, Samara, "are so excited and feel blessed to have the opportunity to come back to the 'Great Place.'
"All I ask is that we not settle and continue to make Fort Hood a better place."
Maj. Gen. Reuben D. Jones, deputy commander for operations at the U.S. Army Installation Command in San Antonio, said Elledge was hand-picked to carry on Freitag's work in a time of fiscal restraint.
"(The Army's) sending the right leader at the right time to take over the challenges that lie ahead for the Great Place, because there isn't any more money, but there will be challenges," he said. "Campbell said, 'Reuben, you've got to get it right.' And I said, 'Sir, we are sending you the best colonel to get it right.'"
Freitag, who previously commanded 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, at Fort Wainwright, said he'll miss Fort Hood.
Upon moving here, he'd heard from a colleague that Fort Hood was called the "Great Place," although the colleague didn't know why.
After two years, Freitag said he'd discovered it isn't only Fort Hood's vast size, population or economic impact that makes it great: it's the people.
"There's something special happening here in Central Texas between Fort Hood and the surrounding communities," he said. "Central Texans have a marvelous sense of patriotism and huge hearts that pour out love and support for our soldiers and families."
Contact Colleen Flaherty at email@example.com or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHFortHood.