Best of the best: Army's chief of transportation promoted to brigadier general
May 1, 2014
FORT LEE, Va. (May 1, 2014) -- The mental image of a young, inexperienced Soldier must have surely offered a contrast in time and place for Jack Sullivan.
"I remember when he was a second lieutenant," the father said with a hint of sentimentality just before his son's promotion ceremony. "I never thought he would become a general."
One could only imagine the father's swelling pride in the moments leading up to Col. John P. Sullivan's advancement to brigadier general Friday at the Transportation School auditorium.
The younger Sullivan, who now serves as the Chief of Transportation and Transportation School commandant, earned the honor roughly 27 years after he ascended from the Fordham (N.Y.) Reserve Officer Training Corps' program. It's an achievement the elder Sullivan said he doesn't take lightly.
"It's unbelievable because I was an enlisted man," said the Air Force veteran, "so, having a son who is a general officer is just beyond description."
The elder Sullivan was one of a few hundred who filled the darkened school auditorium for the ceremony. Army camouflage dominated the scene, but a large number of civilians also were in attendance. They included former logisticians and various community members from the local area and beyond to include Joint Base Langley-Eustis, the Trans. Corps' traditional home.
In addition, a large contingent of Sullivan family members from up and down the Eastern Seaboard was on hand to share in the achievement.
Maj. Gen. Larry D. Wyche, Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee commanding general, was the ceremony's presiding officer. During his initial remarks, he thanked all for their attendance and made it a point to single out Sullivan's wife, Jennifer, for sacrificing much in support of her husband's career.
"There's one thing I want you to leave here with today," said Wyche as he paced on the elevated stage. "This promotion is as much yours as it is his." The crowd responded with spontaneous applause.
Wyche, who was previously stationed with Sullivan at the 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum, N.Y., started his praise of the transporter by putting the achievement in context.
"When John's (promotion) lists were published," he said, "there were 2,421 officers considered for promotion to brigadier general. Thirty-five of those were selected. Four of them were logisticians."
According to Wyche, those numbers equated to a selection rate of 1.4 percent. "Think about that for a second," he said, implying a connection between the achievement and Sullivan's level of competency. "That's the type of individual we're promoting today -- the best of the best."
Wyche went on to highlight Sullivan's moral character, work ethic and leadership qualities. In reference to the latter, he noted how Sullivan and current CASCOM Command Sgt. Maj. Terry E. Parham deployed the 548th Corps Support Battalion to Iraq in 2005, achieving high standards of operability under challenging circumstances.
"What you may not know is that, over the last 12 years, we have lost over 6,700 Soldiers and DOD Civilians between the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan," he said. "Well, when John deployed his outfit from Fort Drum, he went to Iraq (having) to take all these different organizations, pool them together and provide support for (units within) the entire country of Iraq.
"Many of those individuals he had never seen before," he continued, "but teammates, I'm here to tell you that not one of his Soldiers is part of that 6,700. He brought everyone back home to their loved ones."
Following Wyche's remarks, Sullivan was joined on stage by his wife and two kids, Alanna, 8 years of age, and John, 7. He then took the oath of office from his commanding officer and later stood at attention while his wife and Wyche pinned the star ranks on the epaulets of his uniform jacket. Sullivan stooped while his kids did the same for the shoulder boards of his shirt.
As is tradition, Sullivan was honored with a general officer belt and pistol, which was presented by former Trans. Corps Regimental CSM Allen Offord. CSM Cynthia Howard, the current RCSM, presided over the unfurling of Sullivan's one-star flag.
During his remarks, Sullivan thanked all who supported him along the way -- family members, the transporter and logistician communities, and others he served with throughout the years. He gave special thanks to Wyche for officiating the ceremony and provided details on how their relationship was cultivated.
"We served together in the 10th Mountain Division some years ago," said Sullivan, "but I think it is worthy of note that during much of that time, we weren't actually stationed together."
In 2005-2006, Wyche was serving as commander of the only sustainment brigade in Afghanistan while Sullivan headed Logistics Task Force 548 in Iraq.
"I think it is important to note that we were serving in different theaters because it speaks volumes about the type of leader he is," Sullivan said of Wyche. "On multiple occasions, from Iraq, I reached out to him for guidance -- whether it was for help in navigating a complicated situation or just to serve as a sounding board as I worked through an issue… He always, always made time for me. No phone call or email ever went unreturned. His guidance was valuable in helping our battalion achieve mission success."
The noncommissioned officers who have been a part of Sullivan's career also received special mention.
"Our Army has many strategic advantages over any potential adversary, but I'm content that our chief strategic advantage is the strength and professionalism of our NCO Corps," he said "I'm extremely blessed to have served with some phenomenal noncommissioned officers," he said. "I'm very happy that so many of them are on hand today. In many ways, this is their ceremony, not my ceremony."
Sullivan assumed duties as the COT and commandant on April 21 of last year. The 27th Soldier to hold the position, he is responsible for developing doctrine and training for 17,000 students annually at Fort Lee, JBLE and other installations