By Don KramerJune 9, 2010
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Another chapter in the history of I Corps came to a close Tuesday when its commanding general, Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., relinquished his three-year command. With his successor not yet approved by Congress, Jacoby turned over the corps colors to his senior deputy for the interim, Maj. Gen. John D. Johnson.
The ceremony on Watkins Field at Joint Base Lewis-McChord brought to conclusion one of the most challenging periods for the corps that traces its lineage to the Civil War. Jacoby took command in June 2007 and immediately began transforming the headquarters to a war-fighting command and control element, while shifting its culture to embrace the spirit of America's Corps.
For the first time since 1999, a formation of 20 subordinate units and their colors arrayed themselves across the parade field.
General James D. Thurman, who took charge of U.S. Army Forces Command June 3 in Atlanta, Ga., reviewed the 2,000 I Corps troops in formation.
Prior to the ceremony, Thurman presented a Distinguished Service Medal to Jacoby, thanking him for a job well done and citing his "relentless leadership."
Thurman said Jacoby performed a complex, multidimensional mission of transformation, mobilization, demobilization and a mission to train ROTC. At the same time, he reinforced U.S. commitments and partnerships throughout the Pacific and established a forward headquarters in Japan.
"He truly did a wonderful job," Thurman said. "He has been a good leader, a good trainer and a good coach. He empowers commanders and they performed in a remarkable manner in Iraq and the units that have deployed to Afghanistan ... No one could have done a better job than Chuck Jacoby. You're a great Soldier, a true leader, and we are most appreciative of what you've done."
The keystone of Jacoby's command was the year he guided a diverse multinational headquarters in Baghdad through a sensitive period in Iraq's new democracy. He guided a combined and joint task force headquarters comprised of Soldiers from active and Reserve components, Sailors, Marines and Airmen, Department of the Army civilians, interagency and coalition partners.
Thurman praised Jacoby's focus on partnering with Iraqi Forces to allow the host nation to assume responsibility for its own security operations and allow U.S. forces to continue a responsible drawdown and ultimate handover of missions.
Under Jacoby's leadership, Thurman said, the U.S. "weakened extremist networks and helped secure popular support for the Iraqi government," while forging bonds of mutual trust and respect.
Evidence of his success, Thurman said, was the March 7, 2010, parliamentary election, calling it a "powerful statement to the region and the world and a significant milestone on the road to a legitimate democracy."
The new FORSCOM commander said he was certain I Corps had made a lasting difference as the heart of Multi-National Corps-Iraq.
"Iraq is a markedly different place than it was two years ago, largely because of the remarkable achievements of the Soldiers, the Sailors, the Airmen and Marines that composed Multi-National Corps-Iraq, and in particular because of the Soldiers of America's Corps."
Jacoby drew parallels between the experience of I Corps in Iraq and U.S. efforts in postwar Japan.
"We turned a former adversary into an enduring partner," Jacoby said, "only our task was made more complicated by a stubborn insurgency, murderous terrorists and (malicious) neighbors. It will be noted that 2009 was the pivot point in our Iraq campaign, where Iraq became a strategic partner, when the region became less dangerous and the prospect of peace and prosperity became a little brighter."
Jacoby thanked the Soldiers and commanders on Watkins Field for their support and sacrifices.
"My respect and admiration for you only continues to grow," he said. "When so many have dismayed at the harshness and brutality of the fight over these last nine years, you have risen to it. You have not been diminished by it. You have been elevated, separating yourselves from the common men and women by your steadfast service in a noble cause. You have inspired a nation."
He addressed the shared legacy of their service in Iraq as their part in helping create something lasting and positive in the region.
"We have built something special," Jacoby said. "We have accomplished missions important to the country. We energized a community. We have respected and cared for each other and reminded ourselves of why we wear this uniform and put so much of our lives into our duties for moments like this."
Before the relinquishment ceremony, Thurman presented Jacoby's wife, Grace, with four awards: a Distinguished Civilian Service Award from Secretary of the Army, the FORSCOM Well Being Award, a Commander's Award for Volunteer Service, as well as the Installation Management Command Outstanding Civilian Service Medal. He called her "the epitome of an Army wife."
Jacoby departs JBLM for the Pentagon to become director for strategy and policy J-5, Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Don Kramer is a reporter with Joint Base Lewis-McChord's weekly newspaper, the Northwest Guardian.