By Mrs. Sameria Zavala (Humphreys)June 11, 2019
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- In honor of Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Vandal, Eighth Army hosted and opened its newest simulation center during a memorialization ceremony, here, May 28.
Vandal, a former Eighth Army commander and Combined Forces Command chief of staff, from February 2016 - January 2018, passed away Oct. 7, 2018, after a battle with cancer.
During his tenure, Vandal implemented a multitude of initiatives to improve the health and welfare of Soldiers and KATUSAs, with a vision of providing them premium training and increasing combat readiness.
His long-term implementation was to consolidate adaptable training resources, including a virtual constructive gaming simulation environment, housed in the largest facility in the U.S. Army, thus the simulation center was constructed.
"Each and every one of us who served with him, knew just how passionate 'Tom' was about ensuring that Soldiers on this peninsula and within the command, were the best trained Soldiers in our Army," said Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Merritt, a former Eighth Army command sergeant major.
"'Fight Tonight!' was not just a motto to him, but a way of life," he added. "He drove that home to members of his command each and every day. He was a true warrior, whose blood type was Army, and the Army values his DNA."
Vandal made it known, during his command, that he would accept nothing less than a continuous, sustained effort by all members of his command; to enhance overall readiness, strengthen the Republic of Korea/U.S. Alliance, and protect ROK/U.S. countries' national security initiatives.
"I think one of the areas, as a commander, that is so significant, is the ability to have a profound impact on Soldiers and their Families as they go through their careers," said Vandal, in a recorded video played during the ceremony after he relinquished command.
"I believe, if you really care about them (Soldiers), what you see is their development into outstanding Soldiers, Family members and great Americans that significantly contribute to our nation, while they are in service and after they transition out," he said. "This is what I believe is so profound about our Army."
Vandal's wife, Doreen, and their three sons; U.S. Marine Capt. Nicholas Vandal, U.S. Army Capt. Eric Vandal, and U.S. Navy Lt. Stephen Vandal, were present to witness the unveiling of the new building. They were the first to tour the facility after the ceremony.