Soldiers say thank you, farewell to commanding general
July 1, 2014
VICKSBURG, Miss. - The 412th Theater Engineer Command held a change of command ceremony at the Vicksburg Convention Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi, June 29.
During the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Tracy A. Thompson relieved Maj. Gen. William Buckler Jr. as commanding officer after serving in the position for three years.
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W. Talley, the commanding general of the United States Army Reserve, was the keynote speaker at the ceremony.
"The long and distinguished career of Maj. Gen. Buckler exemplified the mission of the Army Reserve Soldier ... to support the active component," he said.
Talley thanked Buckler for his service, which spanned over three decades and recognized him for his outstanding accomplishments and contribution to the nation.
Buckler, a native of Lawton, Oklahoma, will continue into retirement following the ceremony after more than 35 years of service; he was awarded the Silver de Fleury Medal in recognition of his excellence in the field of Army engineering; in addition, he will receive the Distinguished Service Medal.
Prior to his appointment as commanding officer, he served three years as the deputy commanding officer for the 412th TEC as well as the Assistant Chief of Staff, Engineer for the Eighth U.S. Army in South Korea concurrently.
"The most important lesson I learned from Maj. Gen. Buckler is to focus on the big picture," said Brig. Gen. Miyako Schanely, deputy commanding general of the 412th TEC. "As you come through the ranks, attention to detail is paramount; but at this level, you must learn to trust your noncommissioned officers and senior leaders as you handle the overall details of the mission."
His father, Sgt. 1st Class (retired) William Buckler Sr., instilled this trust in the noncommissioned officer corps at an early age.
"My focus for him was always education," Buckler Sr. said. "I always wanted him to be better than I was and it would take discipline to do it."
Mr. Buckler retired from the Army after 21 years of service as a noncommissioned officer in charge of a helicopter maintenance unit, serving three tours in Vietnam.
"It is a good feeling to see him retire," he said. "We had spoken about it a few times and it was time for him to move on. He has done great things in the service of his country."
As the new commanding general, Thompson, a native of Oakton, Virginia, brings new ideas and concepts to the command. Thompson served as an enlisted Soldier through the rank of sergeant prior to obtaining his commission. He was also ceremoniously promoted to major general during the ceremony. He will begin wearing his two stars July 1, the day his orders take effect.
"We have an incredible leader coming in," said Schanely. "We are truly blessed to have such talented leaders here at the 412th TEC."
The 412th TEC is primarily responsible for providing support of global operations, in addition to policies, guidance and administrative support as an operational command. The command is capable of being mobilized and deployed to a theater of operation as the senior engineer headquarters to provide mission command of assigned units in support of the Army Service Component Command's assured mobility, protection, logistics and infrastructure development lines of operation.
The change of command ceremony is a military tradition deeply rooted in history and dates back to the times of the Roman Legion. In that period, military organizations developed flags unique to the organization with specialized colors and designs. When Soldiers followed their leaders into battle, they kept sight of the flag. If the banner still waved after the conflict, it was a sign that their side had won. Having this position of importance, the flag was incorporated into change of command ceremonies. The organizational banner was exchanged in public to see that the one who holds the flag is the unchallenged leader of the armies. Modern day ceremonies are principally symbolic, yet it still indicates the authority of the incoming commander.