Aviation Branch welcomes Barclay
July 15, 2008
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (TRADOC News Service, July 11, 2008) -- Brig. Gen. James O. Barclay III assumed command of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker in front of a packed reviewing stand July 11 at Howze Field.
Hundreds of stoic Soldiers stood in perfect formation on Howze Field as the newest commanding general of the Aviation Branch reviewed his troops for the first time.
Barclay is a native of Scottsboro, Ala., and most recently served as the Joint Center for Operational Analysis-Lessons Learned Director, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Suffolk, Va.
"Rest assured, as one great leader departs, another talented leader steps forward to take command. Fort Rucker is privileged to follow one great command team with another with Jim and Debbie Barclay," Commanding General Gen. William S. Wallace, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, said. "I know Jim will carry forward his vast experience as well as his best practices and insights and apply them here to training and leader development at Fort Rucker."
Barclay said he and his wife look forward to the opportunity to take USAACE forward and continue to support warfighters.
A Soldier who began as an infantryman, Barclay attended flight school here to become a pilot in 1980. During his 30 years in the Army, some of Barclay's assignments include Fort Stewart, Ga.; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; Fort Hood, Texas; Washington and Germany. He also deployed in support of Operation Provide Comfort in Iraq in 1990, Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti in 1994 and two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Barclay is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Naval War College.
His awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal with an oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Senior Army Aviator Badge and the Army Staff Identification Badge.
"Gen. Wallace, I'd like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to command again and be with Soldiers, because that's what our profession is about. That's where I want to be," he said.
He also thanked his Family for their support during his 30-year career and the service of Soldiers and their Families.
"Family is the cornerstone of where I've been, what I do and who I am," Barclay said. "It's because of (the Soldiers') presence on this field and their enduring and untiring efforts that we can continue to have ceremonies like this and live in a great nation. My hat is off to you."
While the Barclay Family prepares to join the Fort Rucker and Aviation community, Wallace remembered and commended outgoing commander Maj. Gen. Virgil L. Packett II for his contributions during the last two years. The recent name change of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence is the latest achievement in the Aviation Branch's progress and transformation during Packett's command.
"(Packett) flawlessly led the Aviation Center in transforming flight training, institutionalizing pre-deployment aviation exercises, restructuring the Army's combat aviation battalions, formulating future aviation simulation strategies and integrating numerous new manned and unmanned aviation tactics, techniques and procedures," Wallace said. "(Packett) consistently provided insightful guidance, inspirational leadership and unrivaled support of Fort Rucker Soldiers, Families and this community. He's an experienced leader who understands the importance of training and motivating Soldiers to excel in today's dynamic operational environment."
The ceremony and his upcoming retirement gave Packett mixed emotions, but leading Soldiers has made him proud, he said.
"You national treasures make it a great day to have served as your Aviation Branch chief for the last two years. There's no place that makes one feel so proud ... than Fort Rucker," Packett said. "I'm proud to have been a part of this Army team. With all the passion I can muster, I just want you to know that Ululani and I tried to give you everything we had as your branch chief and we are Aviation proud and Army strong."
Before the ceremony, Packett received the Distinguished Service Medal, the Order of Saint Michael Gold Award, an American flag and a retirement certificate. Ululani received the Dr. Mary E. Walker Award, Our Lady of Loreto Award and a certificate of appreciation.
"Throughout their 36-year career, Duz and his Family distinguished themselves as the epitome of professionalism and integrity ... and has flawlessly led the Aviation community and this Center (of Excellence) during a period of great transition," Wallace said.
While the Packett's Family and friends were proud of the accomplishments and service of the post's former commander, Friday was also an "extraordinarily proud day for the Barclay Family," he said.
Packett served as the commanding general here since 2006, and he and his wife, Ululani, will retire in Florida.