More than 100 soldiers and civilians packed Nutter Field House on Wednesday afternoon to bid farewell and honor Maj. Gen. Mark C. Yenter and his wife Lisa Yenter at the relinquishment of command ceremony.
Several prominent community leaders attended the ceremony, including Waynesville mayor Luge Hardman, Crocker mayor James Morgan, Waynesville R-VI superintendent Judene Blackburn, Committee of Fifty chairman Rick Morris, secretary director of the Leonard Wood Institute Joe Driskill, military liaison for the Missouri University of Science and Technology Steve Tupper, and Cathy O' Connor of the USO Missouri.
Lt. Gen. David Halverson, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command deputy commanding general, hosted and spoke during the ceremony about the uniqueness of the Fort Leonard Wood community.
"I want to thank all of the distinguished guests for coming out today," he said. "You can tell by the energy of the room by the people that show up. You can tell that this is a hometown atmosphere and that's what it's all about. This is a time for tradition."
Halverson said that Yenter is a true leader who takes command from the front.
"Mark led by example every step of the way," Halverson said. "Mark is a student of leadership, an example of leadership, and is committed to excellence. He has the spirit and passion it takes."
He also spoke of Yenter's many accomplishments while serving as the coming general of Fort Leonard Wood.
"Yenter has set the standard and already delivered on his mission to produce agile and adaptive leaders of now and leaders of the future," Halverson said. "His love and passion for leadership and how he empowers a whole team to to ensure everyone knows what their role is while not over-watching them is really a testimony of Mark's ability to lead from the front."
Yenter said that he enjoyed the opportunity being around young soldiers during his time here and looking back on his accomplishments, he said teaching soldiers how to look out for each other was what made him most proud.
"I don't know what I achieved exactly, but I've taught soldiers to look out for each other and to be personally responsible for their own actions," Yenter said. "Something we've always had in the Army has been looking out for others and when something doesn't look right and to stand up for what is right. That's something that makes us different from other professions. And to be able to re-teach that and to instill that sense of corporate and individual responsibility, that's what makes me most proud."
Yenter said that him and his family will miss the Fort Leonard Wood community, complimenting the school district, the great partnership between the military and civilian communities , and the great people here.
"I'm amazed and astonished about what a great part of Missouri this is and what a great part of the United States this is," Yenter said. "It's been a wonderful experience for me and the family. We're going to miss this community very much. There is a sense of grace and charity that you probably don't recognize if you live here."
Yenter said that for example, around the holidays in this community there are so many different organizations that offer meals to families in need, which he said is rare in a lot of other places.
"It's a very embracing and warm place to be," he said.
Yenter's daughter, Lindsay, was the runner-up contestant on last season of ABC's "The Bachelor," and wasn't able to make it to the ceremony. Yenter said that while the recent rise-in-fame was surreal, it didn't change much for him.
"I've always been known as Lisa Yenter's husband and now I'm known as Lindsay Yenter's father, so it doesn't make that much of difference for me," the two-star general said with a smile.
Yenter leaves Fort Leonard Wood to serve as the assistant chief of staff, C-3/J-3, United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea/deputy commanding general, Eighth U.S. Army, Korea, a mission for which he volunteered for.
Yenter relinquished command to Brig. Gen. Mark Inch, who will be the acting commanding general until Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith assumes command later this year.