By Mr. Robert Timmons (IMCOM)April 15, 2019
Col. Joseph McLamb has seen a lot at Fort Jackson during his Army career, from being a brigade commander and the post's deputy commanding officer. He has witnessed thousands of trainees become Soldiers, and hundreds of leaders grow before his eyes.
He will see one more event Friday at Victory Field as he crosses the threshold into retirement.
"My favorite memories (of Fort Jackson) are two things," McLamb said. "When a non-commissioned officer models the behavior he wants a trainee to exhibit. So for example, when you see trainees who are sweaty and dirty and covered in muck, and they're following NCOs who are just as sweaty, just as dirty, just as covered in mud, you realize that's a leader who is leading by example. That's one of my absolute favorite things to see at Fort Jackson."
Another is watching young officers mature.
I've really "enjoyed watching company commanders grow and mature in their positions … as they begin to grasp how broad and how deep the duties of commander are. Nobody starts off that way; it takes time for them to get there."
The primary highlight from his last tour at Fort Jackson was the "teamwork displayed across the entire installation." While there is always some sort of tension between staff elements, the Army Training Center and garrison staffs "work very well together," he said.
That didn't surprise him, he said, because he sees the jewel of Fort Jackson for what it is: the Army's best kept secret.
Soldiers on Fort Jackson are "making an impact on the Army every week," McLamb said. "If you think about the people they are having that impact on, those people will be staff sergeants 10 years from now; they'll be command sergeants major 20 years from now … The first imprint on them is what they learned here at Fort Jackson."
The community also played a part in making Jackson a memorable part of his career.
He had deployed twice while stationed here -- once to Kuwait, another to Afghanistan. The community reached out and "did a super job" of "embracing (his Family) and making them feel like a part of the Family."
As DCO, McLamb worked closely with the Midlands community virtually every day.
"I think we've got a great cooperation between Fort Jackson and the city of Columbia, Richland County and really the whole Midlands region -- it's probably the closest relationship I've seen at a military installation," he said.
Members of the Midlands community who worked with him over the years characterized him as a "true champion" and a "force" for Fort Jackson.
"He has been just a true champion for Fort Jackson and their mission," said Susan McPherson, Director of Public Policy and Military Affairs with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. "He has just been amazing on all fronts. We are going to miss him and his wife."
McLamb "is a force working with forces, leading the forces and force behind the forces," said Joanie Thresher, senior director of the USO South Carolina. "We have been honored over the years to work with him."
While his retirement will be a time to celebrate his career, it will be difficult for him, as the Army is all he has known. There hasn't been a time in his life when he wasn't around the Army.
"My dad was an enlisted Soldier," McLamb said as he thought back over his career. "I graduated high school, and 18 days later I reported to the United States Military Academy. That was 34 years ago.
"So to say goodbye to the Army, to me, is in a very real way to say goodbye to a Family that I've grown up in and very comfortable in and have gone through some very difficult times with," he said. "You think about the kids that were with you in Iraq and Afghanistan and the people you served with then."
"On the other hand, it's a new chapter in your life opening up," he added. "So I'm hopeful that the skills the Army taught me will prove to be a benefit."
The next chapter in McLamb's life will be with a private sector company that does disaster recovery operations.