By By Emily Brainard, Army Flier staffMay 13, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Brig. Gen. Kelly J. Thomas and his wife, Sue, bid the installation community farewell May 10 during a luncheon at The Landing and an Honor Eagle ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.
Thomas served at Fort Rucker for the past two years, first as the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker chief of staff and more recently as deputy commanding general.
The couple moves to Korea within the next few weeks where he will take over as deputy commanding general for the 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Casey, said Col. Timothy Edens, chief of staff.
Thomas said he was proud to have served at Fort Rucker - "The best military community in the Army" - and looks forward to where his almost 30-year career takes him next.
"Both Sue and I are humbled and excited about the opportunity to continue to serve our Army," he said.
Thomas wished friends, Family and fellow Soldiers the best, parting with a poem at the Honor Eagle's closure.
"May your parachute always land you softly. May your chariot carry you safely across the battlefield. Always put your faith in God and walk with the spirit of 'above the best' in your hearts and minds forever," he recited.
Thomas has been instrumental in implementing positive changes around the installation, according to USAACE and Fort Rucker Commanding General Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III.
"It's been a great ride. It's been fun. It's been hard. It's been challenging. I couldn't have picked a better wingman," Barclay said. "As I look back on the last two years of what he has done and what he has brought to the Aviation center here, you could run him from A to Z. Kelly takes everything that he's given and then he always asks, 'can I have more''"
During the luncheon, various friends, units and commanders presented Thomas a variety of gifts and Fort Rucker memorabilia. Barclay also awarded Thomas the Legion of Merit award at his Honor Eagle.
"Kelly was unmatched in what he accomplished," the commanding general said. "There is no one better than him when it comes to training Soldiers and looking out for Soldiers. I'm proud you've been a part of this team, proud to have served with you and proud to send you off to a better and bigger challenge."
Behind every great Soldier is a strong spouse, and while standing by her husband's side, Sue accomplished much during her time here, Edens said.
"She not only provided unyielding support for her husband over the last 30 years (of his military career), but Sue made a tremendous impact on Families here at Fort Rucker and in the surrounding communities," he said.
Sue was an active Fort Rucker Community Spouses Club member, mentored Aviation Captains Career Course spouses, implemented senior spouse and command staff meetings and generally helped Soldiers and Families in many ways, Edens noted.
During the luncheon, Barclay presented Sue The Honorable Order of Our Lady of Loretto and the Outstanding Civilian Service Award for her volunteerism.
"This farewell is bittersweet. Our loss is really 2nd ID's gain," Barclay said of the couple. "Sue has been there every time you turn around for every event and gathering. She is always there to help and ensure things go right."
Thomas' replacement has not yet been named.