Senior commanders bided farewell, welcomed during Retreat ceremony
March 31, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Soldiers, civilians, Families and community members gathered to bid farewell to former Deputy Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey E. Phillips, while welcoming Col. Thomas S. James Jr., deputy commanding general - maneuver and Col. Christopher P. Hughes, deputy commanding general - support, during a Retreat ceremony at Fort Stewart's Marne Garden, March 25.
Major General Tony Cucolo, 3rd Infantry Division commanding general, said of the Soldiers: "As I've watched you folks arrive over the past two and a half years, I've been amazed at the talent that the 3rd ID attracts."
When it came time to select a deputy commander, Maj. Gen. Cucolo knew the right man for the job. He worked alongside then-Brig. Gen. Phillips at the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, where Maj. Gen. Cucolo said they experienced "a lot of tough, moral courage-testing moments."
After presenting him with the Legion of Merit, Maj. Gen. Cucolo promoted then-Brig. Gen. Phillips to major general. The commanding general considered it a distinct honor to promote his second in command.
"He is a true professional," said Maj. Gen. Cucolo. "He's passionate; he's a Renaissance man who genuinely cares for people." He added, "You took wonderful care of the people and place I love."
Major General Cucolo also promoted him to brigadier general in 2007.
Prior to this assignment, Col. Hughes served as the executive officer to the Secretary of the Army and the Army's chief of liaison to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Major General Cucolo described Col. Hughes as "the perfect mix of talent and skill."
The actions of Col. Hughes in Najaf, Iraq, at the start of the war exemplified those traits.
An angry mob - fueled by lies - surrounded a group of U.S. Soldiers. Though the Soldiers were outnumbered, they possessed lethal fire power they could not use on unarmed civilians. Then a battalion commander, Col. Hughes ordered his Soldiers to lower the barrels of their weapons, take a knee and smile. This gesture diffused the situation and the crowd eventually dispersed. Local Islamic leaders praised the actions of those Soldiers.
"This story serves as an incredible example of how we can adapt and behave correctly, no matter what the conditions," said Maj. Gen. Cucolo.
Colonel Hughes said he looked forward to supporting the Soldiers, Family Members and civilians serving the Marne Division.
"Last November the Secretary of the Army looked me dead in the eye and asked me what division I wanted to go to," said Col. Hughes. "I told him I wanted to be a Dog Face Soldier."
While Col. James is new to his position, he is not new to 3rd ID. Colonel James served in Desert Storm as a Marne Soldier, and saw combat in Iraq as a battalion commander, division G-3, brigade commander and, most recently, as division chief of staff.
"There is no better place to serve in our Army," Col. James said.
Colonel James thanked Maj. Gen. Phillips for his support to the Families.
"As a chief of staff forward-deployed," said Col. James, "I had a unique perspective in being able to see what you did for this division and for the Families." He added that the division was able to focus on their mission in Northern Iraq, because they knew the Families "were taken care of" back home.
Major General Phillips considered his 18-month tenure in the Marne Division the opportunity of a lifetime. Those in attendance were more than just guests; to him, they were great friends and some of the finest Soldiers in the U.S. Army. Major General Phillips praised community supporters and Army Civilians for their support to the division. "Where would we be without our Army Civilians - many of whom served in uniform themselves'" he said.
The general also praised the "magnificent oak" known as the Army Family.
"Their strength is there for you to see," he said, "drawn from within and among."