Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno passed the reigns of Fort Hood and III Corps to Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch in a noncommissioned officer-led ceremony Friday in front of III Corps Headquarters.

Lynch, whose last assignment was commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga., recently returned from Iraq where he served as commander, Multi-National Division - Center.

Earlier that morning, retired Gen. Benjamin Griffin, former 1st Cavalry Division assistant commander, pinned on Lynch's third star in a ceremony at III Corps.

Odierno is tapped to pin on his fourth star and return to Iraq in September to serve as commander, Multi-National Forces - Iraq. The former III Corps commander was confirmed July 10 by Congress to replace Gen. David Petraeus as the top commander in Iraq.

During the ceremony, Gen. Charles Campbell, commander, Forces Command, praised the leadership of both Lynch and Odierno and the contribution Fort Hood's Soldiers have made in the Global War on Terrorism.

"The Corps' primary mission is to fight and win our nation's wars," Campbell said. "(Odierno)Continued from A1

has fashioned success unimagined two years ago and set conditions for scores of units and tens of thousands of Soldiers to deploy from Fort Hood."

While bidding a gracious adieu to Odierno and his wife, Linda, Campbell welcomed Lynch and his wife, Sarah, back to The Great Place, and called them "the right team to lead III Corps and Fort Hood."

Campbell said Lynch brings a wealth of experience and energy to III Corps.

"(He) understands the contributions America's Army is making to the Global War on Terrorism," Campbell said.

Returning to Fort Hood is a homecoming for both Lynch and his wife, Sarah, who is a Killeen native. The couple met here in 1982.

It seems Sarah is the more well-known of the two here, where the general is recognized as "Sarah's husband," as Lynch joked at the ceremony.

This is Lynch's fifth assignment at Fort Hood. He began his military career here with the 2nd Armored Division in 1977. Lynch's last tour at this installation was June 2001-July 2002 as the assistant division commander for support, 4th Infantry Division.

He also has served previous assignments with the 1st Cavalry Division and III Corps.

"Phantom Command Soldiers are indeed the best in the world," Lynch said. "These Soldiers have all decided to make history. Our successes abroad are only because of the unwavering support at home."

With more than 26,000 Fort Hood Soldiers currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and more units slated to deploy in the coming months, Lynch plans to focus on Soldiers and their Families, preparing Soldiers for combat and improving life for their Families.

Odierno, who led the 4th Inf. Div. when Soldiers from the division captured Saddam Hussein in December 2003, thanked his staff and Soldiers of III Corps, "who willfully have chosen to protect freedom and liberty."

He assured the Soldiers they are making history.

"I am humbled," he said.

Odierno said he leaves Fort Hood knowing it is in great hands.

"(Lynch) is the right man at the right time," Odierno said in his remarks.