FMWRC Commander Maj. Gen. Macdonald receives second star
January 15, 2008
Maj. Gen. John A. Macdonald received his second star during a promotion ceremony Jan. 11 that officially elevated the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Headquarters to a two-star command.
Macdonald, who commanded the Army Community and Family Support Center in Alexandria, Va., for 16 months in 2004-06, has returned for a second go-round with the same organization under a new name. He also will continue to serve as Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Installation Command in Arlington.
"This guy we're about to promote is a man of integrity, a great man of character," said Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Richard Cody, who hosted the ceremony. "He cares about Soldiers. He cares about Army Families. He cares about our civilians.
"He's in a very tough position, and the reason why we're promoting him today is because we know he has the capacity, the intellect, the drive, but more importantly, the love of our Army to move this Army to where we need to go."
Macdonald is both the 13th and 15th commander of the predominantly civilian Army organization that strives to provide the quality of life Soldiers and their Families deserve. He cherishes the challenge of leading the organization through the Department of Defense's Base Realignment and Closure initiative that will move IMCOM, FMWRC and the Army Environmental Command to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio by Oct. 1, 2011.
"I come with a whole lot more experience and capability," Macdonald said. "I have another year-and-a-half worth of experience in the Pentagon, so I know how to maneuver the things that we need to get done. I know how to do them better from having been the (Deputy Commanding General) of IMCOM, using the regions, who are the executors. We're the planners and the visionary folks, so we're looking to really be able to implement more of that."
Being armed with two stars makes it easier to implement ideas and programs.
"There are places that you can go as a two-star and people you can pick up the phone and talk to that you can't do when you're a one-star," Macdonald said. "So it gives us more open doors, more maneuverability, more capability to forward the good ideas that all of the staff has in the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command."
During his first stint at FMWRC, Macdonald spent much of his time in the field working directly with military leaders of installations and camps.
"Having two-star jobs is pretty big business, so I'm afraid this time I'll be more oriented in the two headquarters and doing our transformational pieces," he said. "I will be out in the field. I will go see folks and how they work and continue to learn from the field."
After greeting fellow Soldiers, friends and family members for more than 90 minutes in a receiving line at the Pentagon, Macdonald said the significance of his promotion still had not registered.
"I think, frankly, that I'm still in shock," he said. "It will probably rub off on me in a couple days, but that was really my comment to the General Officer Corps in my remarks about how well they've treated me and how they've brought me up and treated me like a two-star for a long time. So the shock of being a two-star is one that isn't as big as I thought it would be. I guess I've got to go home and look in the mirror - then it will hit me."
Macdonald did have words to express what the ceremony meant to him.
"A reflection of a lifetime, I think, of 50 years," he said. "All that I was raised to do, all that I was taught to do, all of the people that have been in and around my life - absolutely amazing."
Cody, however, wasn't about to let Macdonald savor the ceremony without having a little fun at his expense.
"I was truly fortunate to have a senior leader like General Macdonald who was resolutely determined to accomplish the mission and who dedicated their life to the welfare of our Soldiers," Cody told the audience. "Intelligent, decisive, a born leader, good looking, General Macdonald was the epitome of a general officer. But I'm not here to talk about Anne Macdonald."
A rousing round of laughter was followed by thunderous applause for Macdonald and his wife, Brig. Gen. Anne Macdonald, the U.S. Army Reserve Command's Chief of Staff, who sat by John's side and helped his mother, Martha Macdonald, pin on his new stars.
"I mentioned earlier how special and humbling it is to be associated with the General Officer Corps," Macdonald said. "Well, I get a twofer: I'm married to one. As if it's not enough to have a fun, bright, loving, life partner who's cute as a button, I have an inspirational officer who I admire daily in her abilities to lead and train Soldiers, to solve complex issues, and to ask insightful direction-changing questions. Even occasionally I get to see her drive a Blackhawk from the passenger seat. I'm not sure what I did to marry so far up. Anne, I thank you for having me. Please keep me."
Macdonald came to Virginia from Korea, where he served two and a half years as director of the Installation Management Agency's Korea region office.
"I'm just pleased to be able to continue to serve in this amazing Army and for this amazing nation," Macdonald said of being promoted and returning to FMWRC. "It's nice to be home."
Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Macdonald, a 1979 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., has master's degrees from Central Michigan University and the Naval War College.
His first Army assignment was with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division as a platoon leader and tank company executive officer. After graduating from flight school in 1982 as a distinguished honor graduate, he was a scout and attack platoon leader and operations officer in the 82d Airborne Division's Attack Helicopter Company.
After graduating from the Armor Advanced Course as the Draper Award winner in September 1986, Macdonald commanded C Troop, 3d Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 8th Infantry Division at Coleman Barracks near Mannheim, Germany.
Other assignments include commander of Quickstripe Troop and S3 in 4th Squadron, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fuecht Army Airfield, Germany; commander of the 3rd Attack Battalion of the 229th (Flying Tigers) Attack Regiment, Fort Bragg, N.C.; deputy G3 of the 101st Airborne Division and the Family Support Group leader of 6th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment; and G3, aviation brigade commander and chief of staff for the 2nd Infantry Division, Korea.
Macdonald also attended the Army Command and General Staff College. His military awards include the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Legion of Merit and the Air Medal with V device. A master aviator and parachutist, he is Ranger qualified. An all-around athlete, he is particularly fond of snow skiing.