FORT LEE, Va. (Jan. 30, 2014) -- Fort Lee's newest general celebrated his promotion with family, friends and fellow Soldiers during a ceremony Friday in the high bay of Hatcher Hall on the Ordnance Campus.

Brig. Gen. John F. Haley pinned on his first star with the help of his wife, Jennifer, his daughters, Mairin and Caoilinn, his father, Dr. Neil Haley, his mother, Janice, as well as Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, commanding general, U.S. Army Cyber Command, and Maj. Gen. Larry D. Wyche, commanding general, CASCOM and Fort Lee.

Cardon -- who served with Haley in the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq -- welcomed him into the general officer ranks and said he had proved his competence while they were deployed together, although it takes more than competence to be a good general.

"You can have competence, but at the end of the day, it's character that counts," Cardon said. "The character in this man is really something unbelievable. When I queried some of his subordinates, that's what they talked about -- his character."

There are about 300 general officers in the Army, and Cardon said Haley is an outstanding addition to the ranks, and he thinks he will continue to progress in his Army career.

"I don't think (this promotion) will be his last," he said.

Haley thanked those in attendance and expressed his appreciation to Cardon for helping promote him.

"Lt. Gen. Cardon, thanks so much for officiating," he said. "You are one of our Army's best; not only a great strategic thinker, but a Soldier's leader and personally, a mentor and a friend."

He also had special thanks for his family for their support during his career.

"They ground me, keep me humble and endure hardships I never had to as a child," he said. "Jenn often says that I've been able to succeed in the Army in spite of her. But I want all of you to know that any success I've had is because of her."

Although Haley's ceremony was Friday, his official promotion date was Dec. 2. He said it was proving impossible to gather his family and fellow Soldiers before the holidays, so the event was pushed out several weeks. However, when the general officer management office called him last week to officiate the ceremony of a fallen Soldier, he had a private promotion ceremony in his house.

"The Army has a general officer attend every funeral we have of our fallen, no matter where or when," he said. "When I informed GOMO that I had not pinned on yet, they said 'Not so fast general. Your effective date was Dec. 2, so stop sandbagging and pin it on.'

"So Jennifer pinned me in our living room with the cat in attendance," he said. "Although it was very nice and intimate, I think she enjoyed demoting me back to colonel even more when I returned from the mission to Fort Lee."

While most general officer promotions on Fort Lee happen at the Lee Club, Haley said he wanted to go back to his roots with this promotion.

"Twenty-three years ago in front of a maintenance bay in Germany, I pinned on first lieutenant; my first promotion," he said. "That's why I wanted to hold this ceremony in a maintenance bay today surrounded by the combat power and might of the United States Army; back to my Army roots."

Haley said when he started in the Army, he wasn't sure his career was headed in the right direction.

"Coming out of the ordnance basic course, the job all of us wanted to have was maintenance platoon leader in a division," he said. "I got assigned as an operations officer at a depot. I thought my career was over before it even started. But it turned out OK, because I had a great boss."

That great boss helped Haley make the decision to stay in the Army and reach for those higher ranks. He said his leadership and fellow Soldiers helped him reach his new rank.

"I stand here today not on this motor pool floor, but on the shoulders of those who came before me -- subordinates, peers and superiors," he said. "(I am a) humble servant of this great Army and nation of ours.

"As I transition to a general officer, I am honored, humbled and thankful to be able to continue to serve our great Army and nation," he continued. "I feel like I have so much more to give our Soldiers, whom we ask so much of, and I commit myself to leading with a servant's heart."