Armor chief gets star
April 17, 2013
By SUE ULIBARRI
FORT BENNING, Ga. (April 17, 2013) -- The U.S. Army Armor School's commandant was promoted to brigadier general during a ceremony Friday at the Fort Benning Conference Center.
Brig. Gen. Paul J. Laughlin, the 47th chief of Armor, arrived in August 2012. As commandant, Laughlin is responsible for all facets of Armor training, including proponency for all doctrine, policies and responsibilities that relate to the Armor force.
Laughlin was nominated for promotion to brigadier general in December 2012.
The promotion ceremony was a farewell ceremony for Laughlin, as he was selected for reassignment as the deputy commanding general for Maneuver of the U.S. Army's 2nd Infantry Division located in the Republic of Korea.
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, served as reviewing officer at the ceremony at the request of Laughlin, who had served as Hertling's executive officer during his final assignment as the commander of U.S. Army Europe.
"He is my kind of Soldier, my kind of Cavalryman, my kind of human being. He has always spent his career where he is most needed," Hertling said.
"During his service, he has left a lesson to all he has come into contact with. He has taught people what selfless service truly means, and contributed to our Army and the defense of our nation with passion, energy, skill and fun," Hertling said.
Laughlin's wife, Judi, and Hertling placed a star on each of the new general's shoulder epaulettes, a symbolic tradition dating back to 1780.
Maneuver Center of Excellence Commanding General Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster presented Laughlin with his first general officer belt and buckle, authorized for all general officers to wear by Army regulation. Laughlin's parents, Joe and Janet Laughlin, presented their son with his general officer pistol, a 9 mm Beretta. Laughlin's mother-in-law, Peg Connolly, then presented his general officer, gold-braided Stetson hat, which is a Cavalry tradition.
"I owe this day to four groups of people I've had the honor of knowing," Laughlin said, praising Family and friends, who have supported him throughout his career and travels around the world; the Soldiers, NCOs and officers who mentored him; and the bosses, who taught him what leadership is and gave him the opportunity to command.
"It is truly amazing what (Laughlin) has been able to accomplish, during his eight-month time here," McMaster said. "He demonstrates the power behind our combat effectiveness, and I can think of no better leader to take on the challenges at his next assignment. He has the experiences, the critical skills, required for that area of threat."
Armor School Command Sgt. Maj. Miles Wilson uncased Laughlin's authorized one-star flag, which will now be present at all military functions he attends and will follow him to his new position in Korea.
Ruffles and Flourishes rang out from the MCoE Band as the traditional 11-gun salute authorized for brigadier generals was fired just outside the indoor ceremony site. Immediately following, Laughlin was presented the first shell casing fired in his honor by the salute battery. Laughlin presented the Soldier who delivered the first casing to him with a silver dollar to mark the first salute rendered to him as a general officer.
Laughlin was recognized for his contributions to the Maneuver Center team, during the farewell portion of the ceremony. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his service to the Armor Branch, and then his official portrait was unveiled to commemorate his time as the 47th chief of Armor. This portrait will be displayed in the halls of the Armor School.
Laughlin ended his remarks by quoting a poem by the late U.S. Army Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway, "I cannot conceive that God has given any man a richer, fuller more satisfying life than mine, for it was spent in service with, and for, that finest product of our civilization -- the American Soldier."
Laughlin is the third officer to serve as Armor commandant since the Armor School relocated from Fort Knox, Ky., to join the Infantry School here as part of the Maneuver Center of Excellence.