Ceremony on 9/11 honors 21st TSC retirees

by Angelika Lantz
21st TSC Public Affairs

Solemnity notwithstanding, the glorious late-summer day combined with the promise of new beginnings made the 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s retreat and retirement ceremony on Panzer Parade Field Sept. 11 bright with hope and optimism.

Brig. Gen. Patricia E. McQuistion, 21st TSC commanding general, acknowledged the historical significance of the day at the beginning of her remarks when she recalled eight years of deployments and hardship and asked for a moment of silence to remember the nation’s fallen.

But just as the monument at Panzer Parade Field honors those 21st TSC warriors who paid the ultimate sacrifice, it also serves as testimony to the commitment and dedication of all servicemembers and their families.

The three retirees, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Petra Waller, Sgt. 1st Class William Gairy and Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Williams, spoke with one voice when they said Sept. 11 made the ceremony all that more poignant. And looking toward the future, three young voices unequivocally emphasized the hope inherent with starting a new chapter in life. Lana, Chief Waller’s 9-year-old daughter, said she believes that without a doubt her mother’s retirement is an entirely positive event.

“Naturally, I am very happy. My Oma (grandmother) was always by my side to take care of me when my mom couldn’t,” Lana said. “Now, it will be all three of us. It’s like something totally new and so cool.”

Sergeant Williams’ children agreed.

“Of course, I am so totally happy. It means Papa will be around so much more, and I will get to see him and spend more time with him,” said Chiara Jacqueline, 9.

Chiara’s 5-year-old brother, Luca, was very succinct.

“I am just very happy,” he said.

Sergeant Williams, who spent more than 24 years in the Army’s medical field, opted to have an official retirement ceremony mainly because of his children. A remark his daughter made prompted Sergeant Williams to seek permission to participate in the 21st TSC ceremony, even though he retired a few months ago at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

“Chiara told me, ‘Papa I think you have to be a very strong person to be a Soldier. When I grow up, I want to be a military doctor.’ So today is for my children because I want them to experience and remember the dignity and honor of our profession,” he said.

Sergeant Williams is especially proud of the years he spent as platoon sergeant and instructor for Expert Field Medical Badge competitions, where he was able to pass on his expertise while training and testing more than 1,500 Soldier medics. Similarly, Chief Waller said the day would not be the same without her mother and daughter there to witness it.   

“This is a difficult day for me. I am leaving behind a career that has given so much to me. Today being 9/11 makes it even more painful,” said Chief Waller, whose distinguished military service spans more than 21 years. 

Nonetheless, Chief Waller, who last served as the senior ordnance technician with the 21st TSC’s 16th Sustainment Brigade in Bamberg, Germany, said it is exciting being able to start a new chapter in her and her family’s lives. She said she plans on taking a year off while Lana finishes the school year and doing a lot of travelling.

Sergeant Gairy also admitted to the same bitter-sweet mix of emotions.
“I am ready for and excited about the challenges that will come with being a civilian. I have been a Marine for four years and in the Army for more than 23 years,” he said. “I will, at the very least, miss my brothers and sisters in arms and the camaraderie that comes with being one of them.”

And Sergeant Gairy said he will never forget 9/11.

“I was in Germany and easily recall how life changed in an instant as we became a nation at war,” said Sergeant Gairy, who last served as the 21st TSC’s force protection and emergency management non-commissioned officer in charge. He plans on continuing to work in that field as a civilian and remaining in Germany.
General McQuistion said during her remarks that you can tell a lot about an organization from the way it recognizes its people. In the case of the 21st TSC, it sent three retirees off to a new beginning in a dignified manner and on a positive and appreciative note.