General George William Casey, Jr.
Griffin-Dunwoody Change of Command
14 November 2008

General George W. Casey: Thank you. Good afternoon, everybody. It's great to be out here with you.

I must say I've seen two things already today that I haven't seen in quite a while. First, I haven't seen this many Gucci belts -- [Laughter] -- since charm school. I was more than pleased, when I fished mine out of the closet this morning, that I didn't have to adjust it after seven years. [Laughter].

The other thing is, and I hope you've noticed, but standing in the formation in front of the colors of the organizations they lead are members of our Senior Executive Service. You don't often see members of our Senior Executive Service standing in formation, but I think it's entirely fitting and symbolic of the roles that all of our Department of the Army Civilians are playing all across the Army every day in supporting this war effort. So, how about a big hand for all of them' [Applause].

And thank you all for coming out and helping us bid a fond farewell to a great Army Family after 39 years of service to this country and four years of leading Army Materiel Command.

We're here today to honor one of the Army's most talented and dedicated leaders, General Ben Griffin and his wife Noel. I think you know, Noel is in the hospital. Fortunately, she's doing better and she'll be out in a couple of days, but I ask that you keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

I'd also like to recognize Pete Geren. It's great to have you here, Mr. Secretary. Nelson Ford, our Under Secretary... other members of the Army Secretariat, and the OSD Secretariat. I think I see some of our four-stars, some of Ben's band of brothers. I can't see who's peeking over the corner there at me, but I see four stars...Hondo Campbell, Pete Chiarelli, Scott Wallace are all here.

I'd also like to recognize one of my predecessors, Denny Rheimer and his wife Mary Joe. And Patty Shinseki, the wife of General Rick Shinseki. It's great to have you here with us again, Patty. [Applause].

And Sergeant Major of the Army, Ken Preston. [Applause].

I'd also like to take a moment to recognize Ben and Noel's Family. Ben comes from a military background. His father, along with four of his uncles, served in World War II in the Navy. Noel's father, CW4 Jim Elliott, served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and had a 30-plus year career in the United States Marine Corps. At least Ben got the service right. [Laughter].

With us today, also, are Ben's mother, Mrs. Frances Griffin, who I'm told is turning 92 this month. Happy Birthday, Frances.

[Applause].

I guess once you're over 90 it doesn't matter to hide your age, right' [Laughter].

And Ben's sister, Mary Ann Wells.

[Applause].

I recognize also Ben's children represented here by Jennifer today. Jennifer is a systems engineer and working on her PhD at Texas A&M. There are also two siblings that aren't here: Bill is a high school guidance counselor in Killeen, Texas; and Jason is carrying on his father's footsteps as a Sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division. He has twice deployed to Iraq and has four beautiful children who I know are the apple of the Griffins' eyes. [Applause].

For the past 38 years, Ben and Noel have been all they could be for our Army, and then some. Fifteen years in command of troops in Korea, Fort Bragg, Germany, Alaska, Texas, and now Fort Belvoir. For the past four years, especially, Ben and Noel have been terrific supporters of our deployed troops and their Families, and Ben has ensured that our formations across the Army had the equipment, the materiel, and the services they needed when they needed it. And ladies and gentlemen, Ben has been able to do this even though he is just an infantryman. [Laughter]. I know there's a bunch of former AMC commanders that are out here with us, and I'm pretty confident in saying that Ben is the only infantryman among you. [Laughter].

He began his career as would any upstanding young infantryman. He began it as a platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division. But things started to take strange turns in his next job. He reported to Korea ready to hit another infantry unit and he was told, you're going to command a finance company. [Laughter].

Now, picture a very strack lieutenant, with his jump boots bloused, walking into the replacement detachment and being told Finance Company. I'm an infantryman, and I'd be looking for the window. [Laughter].

He fought his way back to the 82nd to command another company, and I'm sure he was filling very airborne when we sent him to ORSA -- Operations Research/Systems Analysis. That's what you get for being smart. [Laughter].

But the best part was the follow-on duty at Forces Command Headquarters. The bane of any infantry captain's existence. Sorry about that, Hondo.

He broke out again after CGSC and got back to the 8th Infantry Division. But from then on, it was back and forth between infantry jobs and demanding resource and programming jobs in the Pentagon.

He doesn't like to advertise this, but his running mates, Bob Durbin and Dave Melcher are quick to tell you that he has 99 months in the Pentagon. Now that's not something that people like to brag about, but selfless service has always been a Ben Griffin hallmark.

In the last seven years alone as our G8 and Commander of Army Materiel Command, Ben has done more to build and equip the Army of the 21st Century and to sustain it to prosecute two wars than anyone else in our Army. Even though Gentle Ben, as he is sometimes fondly called, comes across as an unassuming good old boy -- you know, the shucks, I'm just a gentleman farmer kind of guy. I've never known anyone with the skill that Ben has in getting others to see the right side of the issue...usually his side of the issue. [Laughter].

And thankfully, we've been blessed with his masterful skills in the leadership of our Army since September 11th. I can personally attest to the effectiveness of Ben's leadership. The entire time that I was in Iraq I knew that I could count on Ben to do a first rate job supporting our deployed Soldiers. Never once did I worry that I'd have a problem back here. And never once did AMC fail to provide timely support.

Ben, the performance of your command can only be expressed in superlatives. You brilliantly spearheaded AMC's ongoing efforts to become faster, more agile and less bureaucratic in order to improve support to our Soldiers in time of war, and you have succeeded masterfully. [Applause].

I'd just like to say a word to the Soldiers, Civilians and contractors of Army Materiel Command.

Seldom in our history have our Soldiers faced greater challenges. We serve at a time when the stakes for our Nation and our way of life are high, and the demands on our force significant. Your mission at AMC is a matter of profound consequence, and you continue to reflect the very best of our Nation even after seven years at war.

The Army Superior Unit Award that you received last month is only a small token of the Army's appreciation for what you do every day. Thank you for your service at this very important time. And thank you for the sacrifices that you and your Families made and continue to make to support our troops. Your performance has been tremendous and you continue to make a difference in the war on terror. Well done. [Applause].

Now to Noel, and I'll look over here at the camera because I'm sure you'll watch this a few times.

I'd be remiss if I didn't thank you publicly for your support to Ben over the last 38 years. You've given your all for the Army Family. For your volunteer work with the Red Cross, Army Community Service, Family Readiness Groups, church organizations, and your dedication as a school tutor and teacher, you've touched thousands of lives across our Army.

So Ben, again, please pass on our gratitude to Noel for being such a positive role model. [Applause].

Today we also welcome Ben's successor, Ann Dunwoody and her husband, Mr. Wonderful, Craig Brochie. You're looking very five-o, over there, Craig. [Laughter].

Ann is no stranger to the war on terror, having done yeoman's work in the Army G4 in charge of our logistics for the three years before coming to Army Materiel Command. There is no harder working Soldier in the Pentagon these days than the Army G4, and there was none better than Ann Dunwoody.

Ann, you'll have a big challenge to sustain the superb level of support AMC provides to units across the Army and to prepare for different missions. You have big shoes to fill, but I am confident that you will fill them with the same professionalism, pride and expertise with which you've done everything else over the last 30-plus years. So welcome. [Applause].

Ben, it's almost over. As you depart I know you're looking forward to spending time with your Family and to becoming the cowboy that you always wanted to be.

My guess is that you and Noel will be living it up on your 250-acre ranch which I thought was a big spread. But in Texas that's a small spread -- [Laughter]. But somehow, Ben, I just can't think of you as a cowboy. I kind of get more towards the gentleman farmer, and I think that's probably where you'll wind up. So we wish you all the best.

Those of you who've worked with Ben Griffin have always admired him for his quiet professionalism and great leadership skills. They know that Ben and Noel are kind, caring coaches of Soldiers, leaders and Family members, that the Army is better for the generations of leaders that you taught, and that you can accomplish anything you want with a kind word, a friendly smile, and a determined spirit.

So Ben, thanks for all you've done for our Army and for our Soldiers and Families for the last 38 years. We wish you good luck and Godspeed, and we're going to miss you. [Applause].


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Page last updated Thu December 4th, 2008 at 17:16