'Master Aviator' pilot's final flight at Fort Rucker
Col. Timothy Edens, special assistant to the CG, sprays Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III, USAACE and Fort Rucker commanding general, with water from a fire truck hose after Barclay's final flight here in a UH-60 Black Hawk Aug. 11.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- A Master Aviator received a surprise award before taking his final flight in a UH-60 Black Hawk here Aug. 11.

Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III, former U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, accepted his Master Army Aviator Badge during a brief ceremony in the headquarters building, after serving here for two years.

"He is the most respected Army Aviator today," said retired Brig. Gen. Bill Forrester, former U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center commanding general, at the award ceremony. "There's nobody better founded in Army Aviation than General Barclay."

Master Aviator wings acknowledge a pilot as a senior Aviator, he said.

Barclay attributed his 32-year successful career to focusing on leading others.

"(It's not) about how many hours you have (as a pilot). It's about how much time you spend with platoons and companies and doing things you need to do as a leader," he said. "It's about leading Soldiers and doing the right thing at the right time."

Following the award ceremony, friends and Family gathered on Howze Field to watch Barclay perform his final flight over the Wiregrass. After landing, he received a traditional wetdown, courtesy of the Fort Rucker Fire Department.

Barclay thanked community members for their support and partnership during his command here.

"(My wife), Debbie, and I said this has been two of the best years of our lives and the most rewarding," he said. "We're surrounded by true professionals on and off post."

His fellow Soldiers said Barclay will be missed as he moves to Washington, D.C., where he becomes assistant deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7, United States Army.

"To see a man who dedicated his life to Army Aviation and to see the post come out (for his farewell) is awesome," said USAACE Command Sgt. Maj. Tod Glidewell.

Barclay led the Leading Change Initiative, challenging post and community members to make positive changes to Fort Rucker.

"(The initiative) needed to happen for a long time, and he gathered the installation around him and made monumental changes that will last," Glidewell said.

"Army Aviation moved well into the future with General Barclay," said CW5 Jeffrey Reichard, chief warrant officer of the Aviation Branch.

Barclay was commissioned as an infantry second lieutenant from the U.S. Military Academy in 1978. He attended the Officer Rotary Wing Aviator Course from April 1980 to January 1981. He holds a master's degree in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College.
Brig. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield assumed command of USAACE and Fort Rucker Aug. 19.

Page last updated Fri August 20th, 2010 at 11:45