FORT HUACHUCA — U.S. Army Major General Laura Potter quietly became the top soldier at the United States Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, taking the reins from retiring Major General Robert Walters, Jr. during a ceremony early Friday morning.
An hour later, with all the pomp and circumstance inherent to the Change of Command ceremony, Walters bid farewell to the place where he has served since July 2017 and the troops marched in front of and saluted Potter, welcoming their new commander at Brown Parade Field.
“My family and I are thrilled to be part of Fort Huachuca,” Potter said Friday after the ceremony ended. “The mission here is so important.”
The mother of two sons, Potter elicited a laugh from the audience when she mentioned at the podium that she met her husband Randy Potter — a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel — in 1989 at Fort Huachuca at a soda machine at the base.
“I pressed the button for a diet soda, he handed it to me and the rest is history,” Potter said with a smile.
Potter thanked her Army superiors for entrusting her with Fort Huachuca. She also addressed the various troops that stood at attention on the field, telling them they looked “amazing” and “ready.”
Potter’s most recent assignments include Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence G2, U.S. Army Europe and the J2, U.S. European Command, Stuttgart, Germany.
Walters, who spoke before Potter, thanked various individuals in the audience, but most of all his family — Nancy, his wife of 38 years and his two daughters Martina and Daytona, whom he referred to as “our pride and greatest treasure.” He also said his five grandchildren were present, three of them teenagers and two of them three-year-old toddlers.
The outgoing major general, who is retiring and moving to Leavenworth, Kansas, spoke about the Army’s seven values — loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. When he touched on respect, he addressed his wife and talked about how she worked with soldiers’ families.
“She often did that without identifying herself,” Walters said.
U.S. Army Lt. General Michael D. Lundy, Commanding General, Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, hosted the ceremony.
“It’s great to be here,” Lundy said. “This is a very special post and a very special command.”
He lauded both Potter and Walters, calling them “two true intelligence professionals.”
“Bob, you have delivered in excellent fashion,” Lundy said to Walters. “The work you’ve done has set the path. You’ve been a phenomenal teammate and we’re going to miss you.”
To Potter, Lundy then said: “But there’s no one I trust more than Laura. It (Fort Huachuca) will be in phenomenal hands for the next two years.”
Walters agreed with that assessment. “I’m excited. I have a great major general coming in behind me.”