By Reginald Rogers/ParaglideNovember 20, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. Amidst moderate temperatures and overcast skies, the Fort Bragg Community welcomed its newest commander, as Lt. Gen. Frank G. Helmick assumed command of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg Thursday at Fort Bragg's Main post parade field.
Helmick, along with his wife, Melissa, sat next to U.S. Army Forces Command Commanding General Gen. Charles C. Campbell during the ceremony, who placed him in command of the Army's largest warfighting force.
Campbell welcomed him to his new post and ensured the community that it was receiving a highly capable leader.
"Frank is a proven leader of immense capabilities," Campbell said. "He is fully capable of bearing this load. He is no stranger to Fort Bragg and to this installation as he's had several assignments here and he is keenly aware of the history, the reputation and the traditions of this great force."
Campbell also called Helmick a commander of vision and determination, adding that he brings a wealth of experience and proven leadership to his new post.
"He brings to the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, the full compliment of senior leader skills and a proud pace of operational strengths," Campbell said.
Campbell said commanding the Corps has always been important, but it is significantly important during these time, when we remain engaged ... against a determined foe," he said. "Frank is the right man, at the right place, at the right time.
He pointed out that the XVIII Airborne Corps commander's responsibilities remain the same, "to prepare his Soldiers, leaders and units to fight and win our nations' wars."
Campbell also spoke highly of Melissa Helmick during the ceremony.
"Melissa cares deeply for Soldiers and their families and she has enriched the quality of life at every community where she and Frank have lived. I can assure you that she will enrich the quality of life here at Fort Bragg and in this community," he said.
Helmick, who once served as commander of the 82nd Airborne Division's 3rd Bn., 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, marveled at how Fort Bragg had changed since his last tour here.
"We arrived last week, still unpacking, of course and have seen some incredible changes at Fort Bragg," he said. "Hundreds of millions of dollars in construction, new barracks, new post exchanges and commissaries, which I have yet to visit, new housing and a heck of a lot has changed.
"But General Campbell hit it on the head, saying 'there is a constant here at Fort Bragg and that is incredible officers, paratroopers and Soldiers and, by the way, Department of the Army civilians," he said. "You love your great Corps and this installation."
Helmick said the civilian force is a perfect fit for the Corps during a critical time in the Army's and the nation's history.
He also acknowledged the civilian leaders, such as Fayetteville mayor Tony Chiavonne, who was also in attendance for the relationship their communities have maintained with the post.
"Community leadership can make a good installation great ... or not so great," Helmick explained. "Of all I see here, your commitment to the Soldiers and their Families enables Fort Bragg to continue to lead the way as the installation of many Families in our Army today. So I thank you in advance for your cooperation and help."
He vowed to ensure that the Fort Bragg's Soldiers would continue to be ready for any mission that the nation requires of its contingency force.
"We cannot predict what tomorrow will bring," Helmick said as he addressed the Soldiers and civilians in attendance, "and our country will not ask us if we are ready. They will expect us to be ready and we will meet that expectation.
"As we face the many challenges that lay ahead, there will be good days and there will days that aren't so good," he added. "But together, we will continue to make a difference, each and every day for our Soldiers and Families."
Helmick takes over the reins at the Corps, following an assignment as the commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command - Iraq. Prior to that, he also served in Italy, where he commanded the Southern European Task Force in Vicenza, Italy.
Helmick is no stranger to the XVIII Airborne Corps, as he served as assistant division commander of operations with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Ky. He also served as commander of the 82nd Airborne Division's 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment.